|NOIRA on Heat Illness Prevention
|Ended on 6/9/2021
On behalf of the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association I would like to take a moment to share with you our comments related NOIRA on Heat Illness Prevention Standard [16 VAC – 210]. The hospitality and tourism community takes the health and safety of its workforce seriously; however, we have serious reservations with some of the items under consideration by the Health and Safety Codes Board.
While it appears the intent of the proposed standard is to focus on agriculture, and construction industries, we have concerns that the structure of this measure could adversely impact restaurants, campgrounds, hotels, and attractions. After reviewing the agency background document, it appears that no heat illness fatalities have occurred at restaurants, campgrounds, hotels, or amusements and attractions. So, we would suggest limiting this measure to industries like agriculture and construction.
As you may know, during the COVID-19 pandemic outdoor dining has become a crucial part of restaurant operations. Servers will frequently work both indoor and outdoor spaces during a shift, and some of the concepts in this document could be difficult to comply with for restaurants and their staff. For example, the proposed 15 minute break requirement will harm servers who receive pay based on tips who work both indoor and outdoor spaces.
After reviewing the agency background documents on the heat illness prevention standards it mentions the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is considered an external risk factor for heat-related illness. Unfortunately, the Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) standards on COVID-19 require that customer facing employees must wear face coverings, including PPE. It’s our interpretation that existing DOLI regulations currently in place for COVID-19 mitigation are a heat-related illness risk factor. Therefore, the board may want to consider repealing those COVID-19 standards.
In addition, Virginia law already requires employers furnish safe employment and a place of employment free from recognized hazards. Therefore, this proposal appears to be superfluous.
For the reasons stated above, we urge you to not implement these standards, or limit their application to the agriculture and construction industry.
We appreciate your time and consideration of our request.
Director of Government Affairs
Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association