Emergency rules for Michigan employers to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus were issued Wednesday by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The rules require businesses resuming in-person work to have a written COVID-19 preparedness and response plan, and to train employees. Training must include practices to control the spread of the infection, proper use of personal protection equipment, steps for notifying an employer of COVID-19 exposure or diagnosis, and how to report unsafe working conditions.
The rules largely mirror the requirements MIOSHA was enforcing using the “general duty” clause that requires an employer to provide a workplace that is free from hazards that could cause death or physical harm to an employee, MIOSHA spokesman Jason Moon said in an email. Those hazards were based on federal OSHA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, as well as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders that had been overturned by the Michigan Supreme Court.
“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,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement.
The Supreme Court earlier this month by a 4-3 margin declared unconstitutional the law cited by Whitmer to issue a series of executive orders that limited businesses’ ability to operate and required people to wear masks because of the pandemic. Although Whitmer requested the laws remain in effect through the end of the month, the court on Monday determined 6-1 they had “no continuing legal effect.”
The court, however, did not rule on Whitmer’s authority through state departments and agencies to issue other public-health orders related to the pandemic. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services last week issued orders to keep in place mask requirements, limitations on gatherings and capacity restrictions.
MIOSHA’s new rules also include specific requirements for several industries, including manufacturing, construction, retail, health care, restaurants and bars.
Under the general duty clause, MIOSHA has cited at least 29 businesses in September and October for failing to uphold safety and health workplace guidelines related to COVID-19. Since March, employers have reported to the administration 30 worker deaths and 127 in-patient hospitalizations potentially linked to workplace exposure. It has received more than 3,800 complaints from people concerning alleged COVID-19 hazards in their workplaces and 263 referrals from local governments and local health departments.