In an effort to clarify workplace safety requirements in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling that rendered Michigan’s pandemic related executive orders invalid, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) promulgated emergency rules October 14, 2020. The rules now regulate the safety requirements employers must follow to protect their employees from COVID-19.
Effective immediately and in place for up to six months, the Emergency Rules work to mirror the requirements in previously issued executive orders on workplace safety.
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. As it relates to returning workers to the office or the business, these emergency rules specify the “employer shall create a policy prohibiting in-person work for employees to the extent that their work activities can feasibly be completed remotely.”
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. Industries that were previously required to provide mandatory temperature checks, including the manufacturing sector, are no longer required to do so and instead required to “conduct a daily entry self-screening protocol for all employees or contractors entering the workplace, including, at a minimum, a questionnaire covering symptoms and suspected or confirmed exposure to people with possible COVID-19, together with, if possible, a temperature screening.”
The emergency 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.
The state has issued a new set of online resources at Michigan.gov/COVIDWorkplaceSafety which 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. In addition, the state has launched a new MIOSHA Ambassador Program to offer education and support to businesses, 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.
For more information about MIOSHA’s safety and health guidelines to protect Michigan’s workforce during the pandemic, you can visit Michigan.gov/COVIDWorkplaceSafety. Employers with questions regarding workplace safety and health may contact MIOSHA using the new hotline at 855-SAFE-C19 (855-723-3219).