ASE is receiving calls asking whether worker pandemic safety rules are still in effect. Yes, they are. MIOSHA Emergency Rules put in place last October remain in effect until at least April 16th and are, at this point with Michigan cases on the rise, expected to be extended possibly for another six months.
Under current safety rules employers should:
- Evaluate job COVID risk exposure at work categorizing the jobs into lower, medium, high and very high exposure.
- Create and implement a Preparedness and Response Plan. This is important and where violations of MIOSHA under its rules occur, this has been the most frequently cited infraction costing those employers a lot more money in fines.
- Workplace procedures to manage COVID safety. This includes:
o Identifying and having a COVID Coordinator in place when work is being done onsite.
o Work at home where “feasible,” is still in place. This means that if a job does not have to be done in-person it still has to be done remotely. Policies on telework/remote work need to be in place. The rule is one of the tougher rules to comply with and puts many employers in a tough position vis a’ vis determining and defending what jobs must work remote or have work onsite.
o Face coverings (and other required PPE) are still required with social distancing practices (6 feet) in place and practiced.
o Employee training on procedures with updates on new practices and procedures and with recordkeeping of such training should all be in place and consistently practiced.
o And health screening practices and procedures (temperature check, symptoms questionnaire) are still all in place and practiced daily.
o Cleaning and disinfecting of all common work areas is still required and if a worker is suspected of or has a confirmed case of COVID, perform enhanced cleaning and disinfecting as well as isolate and perform notification (ensure proper confidentiality to avoid an ADA complaint) of workplace and local health department as required. (contact tracing)
Employers should also comply with industry specific requirements that are in place. Industries with specific compliance rules are the following:
- Meat and Processing
- Outpatient Care Services
- Personal Care Services
- Pre-K – 12 Schools
- Gyms and Fitness Centers
- Restaurants and Bars
- In-Home Services
- Sports and Entertainment Venues
Specific safety requirements are published in ASE’s Contagious Diseases and Pandemic Toolkit that can be accessed by ASE members via the ASE Member Dashboard.
Employers are advised to continue following MIOSHA workplace regulations. ASE will provide updates on changes to state, federal, and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) regulations and directives through this newsletter and its coronavirus webpage.
With vaccinations being received by more and more employees the urge to forego the above practices may take over. Employers will still be under these MIOSHA regulations and their enforcement until modified or lifted by State government.
Michigan employers need to know that MIOSHA, under the Governor’s Office, is developing “permanent” COVID protection rules for the workplace. Considering that most diseases come and go, permanent rules for this seems excessive and would possibly put onerous workplace regulations around the possibility of illness in place all the time. ASE, along with other business associations, is watching this development. Employers should be too.
In the next few weeks we will learn if Michigan’s Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Emergency Rules will be extended past April 16th. ASE will report on this when it occurs.
Additional ASE Resources:
Contagious Diseases and Pandemic Toolkit – ASE members have access to the ASE Contagious Diseases and Pandemic Toolkit via the ASE Member Dashboard. The toolkit contains over 50 tools (including a return-to-work plan), forms, and template policies as well as over 50 useful links for easy reference to local, state, and federal resources. Non-members can request to purchase the toolkit here.
Helpful EPTW Articles:
Center for Disease Control Issues Employer Vaccination Program Guidance
Questions to Consider if Your Organization is Evaluating the Use of Vaccine Passports
Return to Work – Under the Microscope
Post COVID Pandemic Employee Handbook Policies
Sources: Seyfarth Shaw Legal Update. Early-Stage COVID-19 Passport Considerations for Employers 3/29/2021; Michigan COVID-19 MIOSHA Emergency Rules; https://www.michigan.gov/documents/leo/Final_MIOSHA_Rules_705164_7.pdf