PRINTING United Alliance Opposes Permanent COVID-19 Standard

Written October 1, 2020

Categories: AD Advocacy, CP Advocacy, DP Advocacy, DT Advocacy, First to Know, FP Advocacy, GP Advocacy, IPDAA Advocacy, SM Advocacy

In comments to the Virginia Safety and Health Board, the PRINTING United Alliance continued to oppose the adoption of a permanent standard, Infectious Disease Prevention: SARS-CoV-2 Virus That Causes COVID-19.  At this time, printing operations in the Commonwealth must abide by the requirements enacted in an “emergency temporary standard” (ETS) that became effective on July 27, 2020. The temporary standard is expected to expire in January 2021 unless extended or replaced by a permanent rule.

In our comments, PRINTING United Alliance stated that “We understand the concern of the Commonwealth regarding the safety of the workforce during this time of pandemic. However, we believe, it must be tempered with common sense and recognition of costs associated with the compliance of a regulation.  We believe that current regulations, as adopted and enforced by VOSH, in conjunction with guidance provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Centers for Disease Control offer sufficient protection for the workforce for infectious diseases, including the current SARS-CoV-2 Virus.  

“We do not recommend adoption of a permanent standard addressing this one particular issue.   PRINTING United Alliance agrees with the position stated by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration existing statutory and regulatory tools are protecting America’s workers and that neither an emergency temporary standard or permanent regulation is necessary at this time.”

The comments also requested VOSH to better justify the permanent standard based on the outcome of the temporary standard. In order to make the standard permanent, VOSH needs to show that the temporary standard has in fact prevented the transmission of the virus among workers in companies required to meet the requirements. 

Similar to the emergency standard, the permanent standard would require printing operations to conduct a COVID-19 risk assessment for each of its employees at the individual task level. Additionally, the proposed permanent standard would also retain the following key elements current in effect:  
• Classification of employees by risk level based on workplace hazards and job tasks.
• Require workers to maintain social distancing.
• Require workers in customer-facing positions where social distancing is not possible to wear face coverings.
• Provide materials and supplies allowing for frequent hand washing or sanitizing for employees.
• Regularly clean high-contact surfaces.
• Implement a system for self-assessment and screening for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
• Implement procedures that will prevent sick employees and other outside individuals from infecting healthy workers.
• Close or control access to common areas, breakrooms, and lunchrooms.

 PRINTING United Alliance’s Regulatory Affairs staff continue to monitor and contribute comments on this issue. For more information, please contact the Department at please contact govtaffairs@printing.org