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Safety and Health Codes Board
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9/25/20  4:41 pm
Commenter: Sean Williams

objection to permanence

September 25, 2020


Safety and Health Codes Board

Virginia Department of Labor and Industry

600 East Main Street, Suite 207

Richmond, Virginia 23219


Re: public comment period re: permanent standard for Infectious Disease Prevention: SARS-CoV-2 Virus That Causes COVID-19, 16VAC25-220


Airlines for America® (A4A) is the principal trade and service organization of the U.S. airline industry. We value our ongoing relationship with the Commonwealth of Virginia as we work together to address the COVID-19 crisis. Like you, our top priority is the safety and wellbeing of crewmembers, passengers, employees and the Virginia public, while continuing to provide essential cargo and passenger air services that are critical to our nation’s economic recovery.


A4A respectfully requests that the Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) not be made permanent, maintaining their sunset with the Governor’s State of Emergency. If the Board decides to move forward with a permanent standard, then several components of the standard will need to be addressed to resolve inconsistencies with state and federal regulations and constitutional concerns.  The ETS, if made permanent, would make mandatory a snapshot of CDC guidelines that are flexible and evolving, reflecting best practices based on contemporary knowledge of a new virus. This remains to be a rapidly evolving situation and that body of knowledge expands daily, and the recommended best practices are routinely updated to reflect new information. Mandating today’s guidelines would calcify permanent best practices based on current knowledge, which could quickly become outdated, fail to incorporate new guidelines and result in unnecessary requirements. . 


In addition, many of the requirements of the ETS remain proscriptive and seemingly designed for closed worksites, like office buildings or manufacturing plants, rather than locations where multiple businesses – many of which have limited or no relationship to each other – operate, such as airports. In such a context, the layering of obligations concerning non-employees – such as providing PPE or notifying of known or suspected cases – are difficult to implement. In addition, any required notification should be limited to obligating employers notify other companies if one of their own employees test positive and notifying their employees if any person at the worksite tests positive. There should be no requirement that employers notify contractor or subcontractor employees of third-party employee positive tests.


A4A urges the Board to refrain from permanent regulations and that the Board instead adopt the CDC’s more flexible approach that recommends best practices based on the best information available at the time.  


We greatly appreciate the ongoing collaborative efforts to combat COVID-19 and look forward to further dialogue. 




Sean Williams

Vice President State and Local Government Affairs




CommentID: 86395