MIOSHA Issues Emergency Rules On Workplace COVID Protocols
Safety requirements employers must follow to help curb the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces were clarified on Wednesday through emergency rules issued by Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration covering cleaning protocols, training requirements and more.
Under the rules (MOAHR 2020-213 ) – similar to what was in place through executive order – businesses that resume in-person work must have a written COVID-19 preparedness and response plan and provide thorough training to their employees that covers workplace infection-control practices, the proper use of personal protection equipment, 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.
"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, in the statement the governor's office distributed. "We welcome the initiation of the departmental rule-making process to establish predicable and well defined expectations."
Since March 2020, employers have reported 30 worker deaths from COVID-19 in Michigan and 127 in-patient hospitalizations potentially linked to workplace exposure, the state said. MIOSHA has received more than 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.
The rules require employers to create policies prohibiting in-person work for those who can feasibly work remotely, require self-screening protocols for employees, and direct employees to report any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 while prohibiting those workers from reporting to work or sending them away from the workplace. They also require notification of any positive cases to those who were in close contact with the positive individual.
"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."
The state has resources online for businesses, including sample preparedness plans and a reopening checklist. Additionally, a new ambassador program will send safety and health experts to businesses for education and support.