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Safety and Health Codes Board
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9/24/20  10:12 am
Commenter: S. Pit

Reasonable Opposition
 

Opposition to making standards permanent is "reasonable" as the guidance surrounding this pandemic continually changes making these standards permanent would be confusing and ineffectual.  Additionally, within these standards, there are many conflicts and inconsistencies.  Furthermore, the training requirements create a problem as the guidance shifts and employees question "who trained you about COVID?"

A few specific areas that place significant burdens on businesses are (1) 16VAC25-220-80 E Training- keeping current with ever-changing guidelines and retraining employees almost daily on the changes. (2) 16VAC25-220-90 C "Reasonable" concern is litigious and costly business as the concerns raised to media/social media has to be defended in both a court of law and the court-of-public-opinion. Reporting should be limited to the employer, employer's agent, and government agency all of which have significant power to address and mitigate concerns. (3)16VAC25-220-90 D is conflicting with 16VAC25-60-110 because if the employer is following the standards, then an employee cannot refuse to work without the consequence of termination as following the standards enables the workplace to be considered safe. (4) Reporting to the Department of Health is the job of the medical professionals who are doing the testing.  The Dept of Health does not accept reports from businesses.  Additionally, after a business is notified by an employee, there is no follow-up or training by the health district to address employee concerns, it falls back on the non-medically trained employer to address this situation. (5) Finally, there is little notice to small businesses about changes or updates or even the publication of these standards. Businesses who do not participate with Chamber of Commerce or advocacy/lobby groups would not be aware of any of these standards or requests as the "publication of the notice in a Richmond newspaper" is a grossly inadequate method of notification in this digital time.  At minimum a notice to all registered businesses with the VA SCC should be required.

Why are we standardizing a system for a particular disease? Shouldn't we be standardizing a system for any possible pandemic or community outbreak?  Standards that are specific to a COVID-19 will not be pertinent to a COVID -20 and we will be doing this all over again... 

These standards do not protect employees in the way that one would want to be protected and they create a burden on businesses for a condition that is out of the control of businesses.  A business is not "creating" an environment that causes infectious disease, yet they are being treated as if they are doing so. The current news shows the lack of concern of the public with house-parties and other super-spreader events... not of businesses!

CommentID: 85712