Permanent Standard Regulation SARS-CoV-2 Virus That Causes COVID-19
VPGC represents nearly 200 family growers and processes approximately 300M pounds of turkey per year with nearly 600 employees. I am writing to object to the plan to make the recently Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) regulation permanent. VPGC is a good example of an organization that implemented measures to protect employees long before state government regulations were enacted. Our plan to combat Covid-19 has evolved as recommendations have changed from both the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC). We have shown transparency with VDH, legislators and our employees long before the ETS was adopted in an effort to provide assurances that we were working to offer protections. VPGC has also worked with other companies to help them adopt some of the same procedures that have proven to mitigate Covid-19 in our workforce. While we had minimal cases in the processing plant at the beginning of the pandemic, we have had no additional cases in the processing plant in the last 3 months.
The ETS rule was enacted outside the normal bounds of regulatory implementation with very little input from the stakeholders. Questions about the ETS regulation have gone unanswered and industry has been left to interpret broad and ambiguous provisions. There is ample guidance from VDH, CDC and OSHA to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 and this has been proven by the rapid reduction of cases in meat processing plants across the Commonwealth. In fact, you could make the argument that cases have largely disappeared completely.
I urge the Department of Labor and Industry not to follow the same flawed ETS process with a permanent implementation of rules that have proven not necessary. I was alarmed at how the ETS was enacted with minimal input from stakeholders and I am equally concerned that regulation of this magnitude is being considered on a permanent basis using the same unsound process.
John King, President