The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) within the Michigan Dept. of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) is one of the first state OSHA programs to promulgate rules which clarify the safety requirements employers must follow to protect their employees from COVID-19. On October 14, Governor Gretchen 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.
“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,” said Gov. Whitmer. “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 manufacturing, construction, retail, health care, exercise facilities, restaurants and bars.
The rules establish workplace safety requirements and employers should coordinate these 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.
“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,” said COVID-19 Workplace Safety Director Sean Egan. “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 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.
"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," said Ron Bieber, president of the Michigan AFL-CIO. "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.”
“Small businesses owners are dedicated to providing safe workplaces. Consistent, practical, and clear rules are important to achieving that goal,” said Brian Calley, president of the Small Business Association of Michigan. “We welcome the initiation of the departmental rule-making process to establish predicable and well defined expectations.”
To view the Emergency Rules infographic, click here.