Calling the action a necessary one “to protect workers and keep workplaces safe from COVID-19,” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer reports this evening that the Michigan Occupational Safety & Health Administration — MIOSHA — has become one of the first state OSHA programs to promulgate Emergency Rules to clarify the safety requirements employers must follow to protect employees during the pandemic.
MIOSHA, which operates within the Michigan Dept. of Labor and Economic Opportunity — LEO — issued the edict, after which Gov. Whitmer signed her concurrence of the need for a comprehensive set of Emergency Rules that will help protect Michigan workers, businesses, customers and communities from the spread of COVID-19.
Whitmer says, “While most Michigan job providers are doing their part to slow the spread of COVID-19, these rules provide them with clarity regarding the necessary requirements to keep their workplaces safe and their employees healthy.” She adds, “I will continue to work around the clock with my partners in labor and business to ensure protections for every Michigan worker.”
Under the Emergency Rules, businesses that resume in-person work must, among other things, have a written COVID-19 preparedness and response plan and provide thorough training to their employees that covers, at a minimum, workplace infection-control practices, the proper use of personal protection equipment (PPE), steps workers must take to notify the business or operation of any symptoms of COVID-19 or a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, and how to report unsafe working conditions.
MIOSHA’s Emergency Rules implement workplace safeguards for all Michigan businesses and specific requirements for industries, including:
- Health care
- Exercise facilities
The rules establish workplace safety requirements and the state says that employers should coordinate those requirements with the Emergency Order issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services restricting gathering sizes, requiring face coverings in public spaces and childcare facilities, placing capacity limitations on stores, bars and other public venues and providing safer workplaces.
COVID-19 Workplace Safety Director Sean Egan says, “As we reengage our economy, the Governor’s actions reiterate the importance to keep workplaces safe for employees and protect customers from COVID-19 transmission.” He adds, “These rules will formalize the workplace safety guidelines previously in place, and are necessary to save lives. We will continue to educate workers and employers on requirements for businesses to get open and stay open.”
Since March of 2020, employers have reported 30 worker deaths from COVID-19 in Michigan and 127 in-patient hospitalizations potentially linked to workplace exposure. MIOSHA has received over 3,800 complaints from employees alleging uncontrolled COVID-19 hazards in the workplace and 263 referrals from local government, including local health departments, indicating that businesses were not taking all the necessary measures to protect their employees from infection.
Ron Bieber, President of the Michigan AFL-CIO, says, “Since the beginning of this pandemic, the working folks I’ve talked to have been most concerned about avoiding catching this awful virus at work and bringing it home and spreading it to their families,” and adds, “We need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to help these people protect themselves and their families, because we can’t have a strong economy when people are catching a deadly virus just by showing up to work.”
Brian Calley, President of the Small Business Association of Michigan, says, “Small business owners are dedicated to providing safe workplaces. Consistent, practical, and clear rules are important to achieving that goal.” Calley adds, “We welcome the initiation of the departmental rule-making process to establish predictable and well defined expectations.”
A set of online resources can be found online at the link below:
That link provides businesses with the guidelines they and their employees must follow and includes a sample COVID-19 preparedness and response plan and a reopening checklist to help businesses put safeguards in place. Businesses can also find posters for employees and customers, factsheets and educational videos.
To enhance MIOSHA’s consultative services, the newly launched MIOSHA Ambassador Program will send safety and health experts to businesses statewide now to offer education and support, with a focus on workplaces with a higher risk of community transmission. To request consultation, education and training services, call 517-284-7720 or online at MIOSHA Request for Consultative Assistance.
Employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health may contact MIOSHA using the new hotline at 855-SAFE-C19 (855-723-3219).
To report health and safety concerns in the workplace, go to Michigan.gov/MIOSHAcomplaint. To view the Emergency Rules, click the link below:
To view the Emergency Rules infographic, click this link: