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MIOSHA Issues Emergency Rules to Protect Workers Against COVID-19

On Oct. 14, the Michigan Occupational Health and Safety Administration (MIOSHA) issued emergency rules meant to protect employees from COVID-19 while at work. Governor Gretchen Whitmer concurred in the finding of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity that the public interest requires the new rules.

The MIOSHA rules implement workplace safeguards for all Michigan businesses and include specific requirements for industries, including manufacturing, construction, retail, health care, sports and exercise facilities, and bars. The rules remain in effect for the next six months.

In addition to the requirements related to the specific industries mentioned above, MIOSHA requires all employers to develop and implement a written COVID-19 preparedness and response plan. Also, business owners must provide training to their employees that covers many aspects of workplace safety relating to COVID-19, including:

  • the proper use of personal protection equipment (PPE);
  • workplace infection control practices;
  • steps workers must take to notify the business of COVID-19 symptoms or a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of the virus; and
  • how to report unsafe working conditions.

The MIOSHA “general duty” clause requires an employer to provide a workplace that is free from recognized hazards that may cause, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm to the employee. A general duty clause citation carries a fine of up to $7,000.

Since March, MIOSHA has received over 3,800 complaints from employees alleging COVID-19 hazards in the workplace. Michigan employers have reported 30 worker deaths and 127 inpatient hospitalizations potentially linked to COVID-19 exposure at work.

A set of online resources at michigan.gov/COVIDWorkplaceSafety provides posters for employees and customers, factsheets, educational videos, a sample COVID-19 preparedness and response plan, best practices that employees need to following and a reopening checklist to help businesses put safeguards in place.

The business attorneys at O’Reilly Rancilio are available to assist business owners with the preparation of COVID-19 safety plans. For an attorney, visit our website or call 586-725-1000.

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