Virginia Adopts First-in-the-Nation Workplace Safety Standards for COVID-19 Pandemic


By Shoshana E. Rothman of Smith Currie & Hancock LLP
Published July 16, 2020

On July 15, the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board adopted §16 VAC 25‐220, Emergency Temporary Standard, Infectious Disease Prevention: SARS‐CoV‐2 Virus That Causes COVID‐19. According to Virginia’s Governor Northam, the new safety rules are meant “to protect Virginia workers by mandating appropriate personal protective equipment, sanitation, social distancing, infectious disease preparedness and response plans, record keeping, training, and hazard communications in workplaces across the Commonwealth.”

The text of the guidelines are still being finalized, but will become immediately enforceable upon publication, with publication expected to occur the week of July 27.

The guidelines will classify job tasks by levels of potential exposure as “very high,” “high,” “medium,” and “lower.” In earlier drafts, the Board considered the construction industry low risk for most operations/tasks and medium risk for workers in close contact. It is expected that employers will be required to take into account any jobsite characteristics impacting the level of exposure, such as the differences in exposure level for highway construction as compared to the constraints of vertical construction. It is expected that construction employers will also be required to instruct employees in the recognition of and avoidance of unsafe conditions and controlling or eliminating hazards or potential exposure.

You can read the standards here.

Smith Currie will keep you updated as these standards are implemented.

Shoshana E. RothmanShoshana E. Rothman is a Partner with Smith Currie & Hancock LLP. She practices complex commercial litigation, with an emphasis on construction law, suretyship, and government contracts. She can be reached at or 703.506.1990.