OSHA Could Look to Virginia's COVID-19 Safety Rule for Nationwide Standard

Industry experts have praised Virginia’s Jan. 27 COVID-19 worker safety rule.

Virginia’s safety rule that protects workers from COVID-19 is seen as a superior model for regulation across the United States, says Bloomberg Law.

On Jan. 27, the state became the first to enact a permanent rule on the matter. Virginia’s rule arrived less than one week after President Biden’s executive order that instructed OSHA to decide on whether a national COVID-19 rule is necessary. Industry managers and attorneys believe that the contents of Virginia’s rule should be applied to other states.

“My thought is that the federal standard will be like the Virginia rule,” said Travis Vance, a partner at a North Carolina law firm. “California’s standard has a lot of difficult things to comply with. I think a lot of employers would be taken aback at the resources they would have to pour into complying.”

The Virginia standard classifies workplaces into high, medium and low risk. High risk workplaces include health care facilities, while medium risk workplaces include transportation, schools and retail. Office buildings are considered low risk workplaces.

A characteristic of Virginia’s rule that makes it a possible template for a national rule is its adaptability. The rule is written so that any CDC guidance changes will be incorporated into a revised version of the rule.

About the Author

Nikki Johnson-Bolden is an Associate Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety.

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