Companies with Virginia truck drivers will have to create infectious disease preparedness and response plans
Virginia is the first state to impose enforceable COVID-19 safety requirements in the workplace. Fleets based in or operating in the state are now figuring out what the effect of this new law will be for their drivers and operations.
The final Emergency Temporary Standard rule was first made public on July 17 by the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry and anticipates publication during the week of July 27.
What is required once the rule is published?
According to the rule, all companies based in Virginia will be required to:
- classify employees by risk level (very high, high, medium and lower) based on workplace hazards and job tasks
- establish policies for employees to self-monitor for COVID-19 signs and to report symptoms
- put in place procedures to prevent employees who are known to have or are suspected of having COVID-19 from infecting co-workers, and
- develop and implement a written infectious disease preparedness and response plan for employers of people in “medium risk” jobs (including truck drivers) that require being closer than 6 feet to other employees or the general public
Employers have 60 days from the rule’s effective (publication) date to develop the plan.
What does the Virginia Trucking Association (VTA) say?
According to Freightwaves, Dale Bennett, president and CEO of the Virginia Trucking Association, is seeking more clarity from the state on what he says could be a major regulatory burden for his members as well as shippers and receivers.
“If you have motor carriers or trucking companies that either do business in Virginia or have facilities in Virginia and you haven’t paid attention to this, you need to wake up,” Bennett told FreightWaves. “Anytime you talk about a new regulation, there’s going to be some cost associated with that. There are now certain requirements and responsibilities on the employer to report when employees test positive. These aren’t just guidelines anymore.”
For carriers that do not have locations in Virginia, once a driver steps out of the cab inside Virginia, there may be parts of these regulations that affect them.
What are the penalties if you disregard the rules?
According to Virginia Department of Labor and Industry, they can enforce the rules with fines for noncompliance ranging from $13,000 to $130,000 for repeat offenders and the state may shutter an employer’s operations, if deemed necessary.
How long will this last and what about other states?
The rules are set to expire six months after becoming published but could be extended if the state decides to do so.
We will be watching if additional states adopt similar plans.
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