The Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board will be meeting on June 24, 2020 to discuss proposed regulations that, if enacted, could make workplaces much safer for grocery, food and meat processing, and health care workers in Virginia. The board has invited the public to weigh in on the regulations through comments on their website.

Submit your comment encouraging the Board to adopt strong measures requiring our employers to keep us safe!

Visit the Board website and click “Enter a Comment” to tell the Board why they need to protect grocery and food processing workers!

Some key things to let them know:

  • Grocery, food processing, and all health care and nursing home care should be included in the high risk category. At Local 400, we have had at least 164 members in those industries contract COVID-19 and two have died in Virginia. Until there is a vaccine, interacting in close proximity with the public and co-workers means we are high risk!
  • In grocery stores, customers should be required to wear masks along with employees. When we wear masks it protects customers, they should wear masks to protect us!
  • In food and meat processing facilities, line speeds should be slowed to allow for social distancing. When we are on the line for hours at a time, plastic barriers are not enough!

We encourage you to include your personal experiences in your comments to let them know that essential employees like grocery, food and meat processing, and health care workers are high risk and deserve to be safe at work!

If you do not want to write your own comments, you can cut and paste the comments below:

Essential workers like those working in grocery, meat and food processing, and health care, have been keeping Virginians healthy, fed, and safe by continuing to do their jobs on the front lines since this pandemic began. The danger they face has not gone away, and as more people go back to work and out of their houses, the risk to those on the front lines is only going to increase. At least 164 workers in these industries have gotten sick and 2 have died. To me, that means these jobs are high risk, and I encourage you to include grocery, meat and food processing, and all health care workers in the high risk category under these regulations.

In addition, workers in these industries have been required to wear masks for months, which protects them from each other, and in grocery stores, protects customers from the employees. Unfortunately, there has been no enforceable requirement for customers to wear masks, which is the only thing that would give a worker protection if a customer comes in carrying the virus. I encourage you to make masks a requirement in all retail stores!

Finally, many meat and food processing facilities have put up plastic or other physical barriers on processing lines to help slow the spread of the disease. These are inadequate when workers are in close contact with each other for hours. Line speeds need to be slowed so that proper, six foot, social distancing can be maintained at all times. I encourage you to require employers slow line speeds and implement real social distancing!