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Virginia AFL-CIO Touts “Huge Win for Workers” as State “Enacts First Permanent Workplace Virus Protection Standards in the Nation”

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From the Virginia AFL-CIO:

A HUGE WIN FOR WORKERS OF VIRGINIA: VIRGINIA ENACTS FIRST PERMANENT WORKPLACE VIRUS PROTECTION STANDARDS IN THE NATION

RICHMOND, VA – Today, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed into effect the first permanent workplace virus protection standards in the nation. On Wednesday, January 13, 2021, the Virginia Health and Safety Board voted 9 – 4 (with one abstention) to create the first permanent workplace virus protection standards in the country.

It was during this past summer while the COVID-19 virus began seeing a major uptick in positive cases across the Commonwealth that Virginia became the first state in the nation to enact an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) emergency temporary standard that addressed workplace protections. States such as California, Michigan, Oregon, and Washington followed suit and also enacted similar emergency temporary standards.

Virginia AFL-CIO, who represents of 330,000 union members and their working families, played a major role in spearheading the drafting and implementation of these critical workplace health and safety protections. This enforceable Virginia OSHA standard requires employers to develop and implement an infectious disease preparedness and response plan specific to their workplace, identifying ways the virus enters the workplace and using commonsense protection measures to prevent worker exposures to the virus. The standard also moves corrections personnel into the high-risk category, which more accurately reflects the working conditions as distance cannot be maintained, adds clarity that respiratory protection is necessary for corrections workers.

In response to the passage of the permanent standards, Virginia AFL-CIO President Doris Crouse-Mays said, “We are proud of Virginia’s bold leadership from the Virginia Health and Safety Board to the Governor’s Office, and to all the advocacy groups on protecting workers during the pandemic, but now, more importantly, protecting them once we triumph over COVID-19. These, now permanent standards, are what will continue to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by addressing workplace exposures, and honoring the work being done by workers and the risks that they have taken during this pandemic to bring some normalcy to our livelihoods in the Commonwealth.

Every nurse, doctor, caretaker, emergency responder, teacher, grocery store worker, factory worker, and every worker in between serving on the frontlines are protected, our community is protected, business providers and their consumers are protected. Finally, the voices of workers have not just been heard, but they have been listened to, acted upon, and protected.”

The permanent standards are due to go into effect January 27, 2021.

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Virginia AFL-CIO is a labor organization that represents over 330,000 union members and their families within the Commonwealth. VA AFL-CIO is a state federation of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) working tirelessly to improve the lives of working people.

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