VSC Safety Alert – Attention: All Virginia Employees

Effective July 27, 2020, the state of Virginia established Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) 16VAC25-220. The purpose of the standard is to establish requirements for employers to control prevent and mitigate the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Full text of the Standard is accessible via the Department of Labor website, https://www.doli.virginia.gov/. The full text outlines your rights and responsibilities as an employee working within the Commonwealth of Virginia, including an
anti-discrimination clause that protects your rights under the safety and health provisions of the ETS.

Hazard:
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The virus can cause illness ranging from mild to severe and, in some cases can be fatal. Severe illness can lead to hospitalization, intensive care, or the use of a ventilator to aid breathing. Increased risk factors leading to more severe illness include asthma, cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, hypertension, liver disease, weakened immune systems, obesity (BMI ≥ 30), pregnancy, pulmonary fibrosis, serious heart conditions, sickle cell disease, smoking, and Type 1 & Type 2 diabetes. Risk for severe illness also increases with age! 

Symptoms typically include fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea. Some people infected with the virus have reported experiencing other non-respiratory symptoms. Other people, referred to as asymptomatic cases, have experienced no symptoms at all.

According to the CDC, symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus.

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, including:

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets discharged from an infected person engaged in typical daily activities such as talking, coughing or sneezing. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
  • Possibly, by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.

People are thought to be most contagious when they are symptomatic. However, people who are pre-symptomatic or have no symptoms at all (asymptomatic) can also infect you through their respiratory droplets.

 

Preventative Measures:
To reduce the impact of COVID-19 outbreak conditions on businesses, workers, customers, and the public, it is important for all VSC
employees to adhere to and follow each criteria listed below:

  • Follow Social Distancing Rules: stay at least 6 feet away from other people to avoid an infected person’s germs.
  • Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth. You can transfer germs from your fingers & hands and infect yourself.
  • Respiratory etiquette: cover your cough with tissues, sneeze into your sleeve or tissues and discard tissues into the trash, and immediately wash your hands.
  • Wear a cloth face cover in public settings and in the workplace when social distancing is difficult to maintain.
  • Wash Hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds – sing the Happy Birthday song twice while you wash. Dry your hands thoroughly. Use Hand Sanitizer containing 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Frequently disinfect commonly used hard surfaces such as doorknobs, cell phones, key boards, tablets, faucet handles, handrails; and tools & equipment focusing on handles, switches and other common touch points.
  • Do not use co-worker tools, equipment, phones, desks, offices, etc., that you have not properly disinfected.
  • If you develop any COVID-19 symptoms – stay at home; advise your VSC manager; and follow your doctor’s advice.
  • If you live with a person or have been exposed to a person diagnosed with COVID-19, immediately notify your manager.
  • If you are working on a job-site where a person has been diagnosed with COVID-19, immediately notify your manager.
  • If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 while at work, immediately notify your manager and go home.
  • If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, you must notify VSC’s HR Department and your manager immediately.
  • VSC employees will not travel to any location subject to a CDC travel advisory. If you traveled to a location within the past 14 days identified on the CDC website, you must notify your manager immediately.
  • Within 24 hours of being informed by a VSC employee that they are diagnosed with COVID-19, VSC management will notify VSC co-workers, customers, and other employers who had employees on the job site that were exposed to the diagnosed VSC employee. The identity of the diagnosed employee will be kept confidential per the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

 

Exposure Risk Level:

  • In applying the ETS to VSC job tasks, tasks will be analyzed to determine the exposure level presented by SARS-CoV-2 virus related hazards and the possibility that an employee could be exposed to those hazards. Given VSC’s industry, we anticipate all job tasks will meet either “lower” risk level requirements or “medium” risk level requirements.
  • “Lower” exposure risk hazards are job tasks involving minimal occupational contact with other people, and do not require contact inside 6 feet of other persons.
    • This Safety Alert covers the training requirements for employees conducting “Lower Risk Level” job tasks.
  •  “Medium” exposure risk hazards are job tasks that require more than minimal occupational contact inside 6 feet of other persons not known to have COVID-19 (diagnosed) or suspected of having COVID-19 (symptomatic). This can include job tasks performed in indoor and outdoor construction settings, and on customer premises.
    • Local management will communicate additional training requirements for “Medium Risk Level” job tasks as the
      hazard analysis identifies these tasks.
  • Factors considered to determine exposure risk level will include, but are not limited to:
    • Job tasks being undertaken
    • Work environment – indoors vs. outdoors
    • Known or suspected presence of SARS-CoV-2 virus
    • Number of employees and other persons present in relation to the size of the work area
    • Working distance between employees and other persons – Can 6 feet be maintained between people?
    • Duration and frequency of exposure to other people when working inside 6 feet of those people
    • Potential exposure to airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 virus
    • Contact with contaminated surfaces or objects e.g. tools, equipment, phones, workstations, common touch points
    • Carpooling

 

RETURN TO WORK STRATEGIES:

  • VSC employees confirmed to have COVID-19 through a test designed to diagnose an active coronavirus infection can end self-isolation and return to the workplace by following either a time-based or a test-based strategy, depending on local healthcare officials or employee medical provider guidance.
    • Symptom-based strategy
      • Symptomatic case – an employee who tested positive and had symptoms (symptomatic) can end self-isolation and return to the workplace when (i) at least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery, defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath); and (ii) at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
      • Asymptomatic case – An employee who tested positive but had no symptoms (asymptomatic) can end self-isolation and return to the workplace when (i) at least 10 days have passed since the date of the employees first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test assuming the employee did not subsequently develop symptoms since the employee’s positive test. If symptoms developed, follow the time-based strategy for Symptomatic case.
    • Test-based strategy – If the healthcare/medical provider guidance includes a test-based strategy, the employee cannot return to the workplace until (i) resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications, (ii) improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath), and (iii) negative results of an FDA Emergency Use Authorized COVID-19 molecular assay for detection of SARS-CoV-2-RNA from at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected 24 hours or more apart (total of two negative specimens)
    • Serological testing (antibody testing) shall not be used to make decisions about returning employees to work for employees confirmed (positive) or suspected (had symptoms but were never tested) to have COVID-19.

VSC Safety Alert Confirmation - VA Employees

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