Virginia Business Comments: Proposed Emergency Regulation to Prevent Infectious Disease in the Workplace Highly Flawed

Proposed Emergency Regulation to Prevent Infectious Disease in Workplace Highly Flawed
Rushed approval questioned–similar regulation already rejected by Federal Court

RICHMOND (June 23, 2020) – At a meeting of the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s Health Codes Board on Wednesday emergency regulations on workplace safety will be considered in a hurried process that lacks enough input from the business community and the public on the proposal and attempts to mandate “one-size-fits-all” regulations on all Virginia businesses.

The Virginia Business Coalition, a group of 27 business organizations, said employers are committed to protecting their employees, contractors, and the public from COVID-19, but believe the flawed proposal should be rejected. The group also says OSHA requirements and CDC guidance already sufficiently address workplace contagion issues when combined with a law requiring employers to provide a safe workplace that is free of hazards.

“This proposal, initially brought forth by labor groups in April, would lock in new state workplace rules even though the science is ever-changing, which defies logic,” said NFIB State Director Nicole Riley. “It’s perplexing why, after three months as businesses already put into place procedures and controls to make their workplaces safe, Virginia is still moving forward to impose new regulations on struggling small businesses. Plus, the AFL-CIO’s attempt to force OSHA to adopt a similar emergency regulation nationally was rejected by two courts including the US Court of Appeals.”

“This one-size-fits-all mandate would put the same workplace requirements on every Virginia business without considering job task hazard assessments, and that is because businesses were not given enough time to offer comments,” said Brett Vassey, President, President, and CEO,  Virginia Manufacturers Association. “The proposal also conflicts with existing federal workplace rules and CDC recommendations on COVID-19 which would create confusion in the workplace.”

“Employers do want to protect their workers but rushing through a flawed regulation with only six business days for public comment is an injustice, especially when this emergency regulation would impact every business in the Commonwealth,” said Jodi Roth, Virginia Retail Federation. “Federal workplace standards already exist that are sufficient and enforceable, so no additional layer of state regulations is necessary and that would impose a big burden on businesses as they try to recover economically.”

Editor’s Note: The Virginia Business Coalition comments submitted to the Department of Labor and Industry are attached, pointing out specific flaws in the proposed emergency regulation.