On Monday, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Agency (MIOSHA) changed its COVID-19 emergency rule on workplace safety protocols following the Governor’s previous announcement of the same more than a week ago. Employers have waited for MIOSHA to catch-up to the Governor’s announcement last week, being caught between the Governor’s office change and MIOSHA’s existing rules published last October.
This followed a more surprising announcement last Friday by MIOSHA that it is abandoning its run at promulgating permanent COVID-19 workplace safety rules. Michigan employers had not agreed that they should be subject to permanent pandemic related safety work rules. The illness and safety circumstances surrounding COVID-19 were just changing too much and too often to have permanent rules to comply with. The rules were considered overly burdensome and were inconsistent with federal guidelines.
On Monday, revised MIOSHA COVID-19 emergency rules went into immediate effect along with new general public masking and social distancing rule put out by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).
In summary, MIOSHA’s new emergency rules:
o Remove the ban on in person work
o Employers no longer have to require employees that are fully vaccinated to wear face coverings and social distance while at work. A challenge that employers must now face is how to establish whether individual employees actually are vaccinated as they may say. One reported approach is employers having employees signing affidavit-like forms to have documentation of vaccination.
o Employers must enforce rules that ensure non-vaccinated individuals continue to mask and social distance.
o Importantly, employers need to update and maintain a written COVID-19 preparedness and response plan. This plan shall be consistent with current Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) orders or guidance.
o Employers must continue basic infection prevention measures. This includes:
- Promoting frequent handwashing by soap and water or hand sanitizers or alcohol based towelettes
- Sending workers that are experiencing symptoms home. (health surveillance must still be conducted)
- Facility cleanings and disinfecting practices exercised with EPA approved disinfectants that are effective against COVID-19
o Health surveillance must still be practices by all employers:
- Daily self-screening protocols with questionnaire on symptoms
- Required worker reporting of any signs or symptoms
- Isolation of employees known or suspected to have COVID-19. This includes:
- Not allowing known or suspected cases by workers to report to work
- Sending known or suspected cases away from the workplace
- Assigning known or suspected workers to work alone at a remote location (e.g. home)
- Exercising prescribed notification practices when known cases of COVID-19 are found in the workplace
- Allowing return to work of employees that had or were suspected of having COVID-19 back to work only after they are considered no longer infected according to the latest CDC guidance
- Workplace controls including assigned safety coordinators, social distancing for non-vaccinated employees, provision of face coverings, and requirement of wearing by employer to non-vaccinated workers
- Training on SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 (updated when necessary) must continue
- Recordkeeping requirements are still in place. This is for training, health screening protocols, and required notifications.
MIOSHA’s new COVID-19 workplace rules will remain in effect until October 14, 2021 but can be modified, if necessary, before then.
Employers may issue their own safety rules if desired as long as they meet the minimum federal, state, or local requirements.
Under the new MDHHS order starting June 1:
o No capacity limits for outdoor gatherings but masking for unvaccinated individual
o No capacity limits at residential gatherings. Masking is recommended for unvaccinated individuals.
o Masking is still in place when travelling on planes, buses, trains, and other public transportation.
o COVID testing is no longer required before or after travel or self-quarantine when travelling domestically.
o Indoor establishments (restaurants, gyms, sports venues) will still be at 50% capacity until July 1st. Indoor social gathering rules by venue will be set by the venue hosting the event.
Establishments, as with employers, may have their own guidelines and practices in place and practiced.
The MHDDS order is in place until at least July 1st, when it will again update the general public safety orders.
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.
COVID-19 Employer Resources - Visit our employer resources webpage for up to date information and helpful links.
Source: Michigan Manufacturers Association MFG COVID-19 UPDATE (5/19/2021). GONGWER Michigan Report Monday May 24, 2021.