May 22, 2022

Volume XII, Number 142


May 20, 2022

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May 19, 2022

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Michigan’s Return to Work: Updated MIOSHA Rules

On Monday, May 24, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) has relaxed its COVID-19 regulations. Effective May 24, 2021, all employees can return to the workplace, and fully vaccinated employees may do so without the need for masks or social distancing limitations.

In October 2020, MIOSHA outlined emergency rules for handling COVID-19 in the workplace. These rules were set to expire on October 14, 2021, pending a decision to permanently implement any such rules. Last week, Gov. Whitmer announced that her administration and Republican legislative leaders agreed to rescind any permanent COVID-19 workplace proposals. On May 24, 2021, Gov. Whitmer announced that the MIOSHA rules have been updated to integrate the latest Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.

The following changes have been made to MIOSHA’s emergency rules to reflect the latest orders from the CDC and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). These updates became effective on May 24, 2021 and will expire on October 14, 2021.

Employers can allow fully vaccinated employees to return to work without masks or social distancing limitations

Fully vaccinated employees can now return to work without mask or distancing requirements. However, this update only serves as a minimum standard and employers may continue to implement phased re-opening plans, mask mandates, and distancing requirements. Businesses should continue to be aware of workplace conditions and may choose to continue offering remote work if appropriate.

Employers should be advised that they are still required to conduct a daily entry self-screening for all employees or contractors entering the workplace. This mandated screening also applies to fully vaccinated employees.

Cleaning requirements have been updated to reflect CDC guidelines

CDC guidance requires that when no people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases are known to have been in a space, cleaning once a day is enough to sufficiently remove the virus that may be on any surfaces. However, the CDC recommends that employers develop and implement routine cleaning plans for more frequent cleaning or disinfecting where there is a high transmission of COVID-19 in the community, a low number of people wearing masks, or infrequent hand washing. High-touch surfaces should be cleaned at least once a day.

Employers are still required to have a written preparedness and response plan to address COVID-19 in the workplace

MIOSHA still requires that employers implement a written COVID-19 preparedness and response plan. This plan must remain consistent with all guidance from both the CDC and the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and must include the measures that the employer will implement to prevent employee exposure. Employers must also continue to make the plan readily available to employees and their representatives.

Definitions have been updated to reflect changes to what constitutes “close contact” and “fully vaccinated persons”

MIOSHA has adopted the CDC’s definition of “close contact” as someone who was within six feet for a total of 15 minutes or more within two days prior to illness onset, regardless of whether the contact was wearing a mask. Additionally, MIOSHA has defined “fully vaccinated persons” to include persons for whom at least two weeks have passed after receiving the final dose of an FDA-approved or authorized COVID-19 vaccine.

Industry-specific language has been removed from the rules

The updated MIOSHA rules no longer outline industry-specific requirements for employers. Instead, the updated rules focus on performance and workplace controls for vaccinated employees and unvaccinated employees alike.

The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity expects the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to offer its own guidelines for COVID-19 restrictions in the workplace. When released, MIOSHA will integrate these guidelines into the updated rules.

In addition to these updates in the workplace, MDHHS recently released new deadlines for easing COVID-19 restrictions throughout Michigan. Employers should be advised that they must comply with both the MDHHS order and the MIOSHA order. A summary of the MDHHS order can be found here.

© 2022 Varnum LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 145

About this Author

Seth W. Ashby, Varnum Law Firm, Grand Rapids, Corporate Planning Attorney, Private Equity Lawyer

Seth is a partner and member of the firm’s Business and Corporate Services Team. He is experienced in business representation, planning and counseling. He focuses on mergers and acquisitions, as well as private equity, securities, distressed asset and restructuring, and commercial transactions. Seth also advises clients with respect to corporate governance, regulatory and other general corporate matters.

David E. Khorey, Labor Employment Attorney, Varnum, Workplace Confidentiality Matters Lawyer

Dave’s “client-centered” practice involves a variety of labor and employment issues. He provides practical and confidential ongoing advice and consulting on a number of sensitive and complex labor and employment matters, from problem employee situations to multi-facility collective bargaining negotiations. His representative clients include diverse industries (such as automotive, printing, transportation and hospitals) throughout the nation.  

Dave has also served as chair of the firm.

Honors & Recognitions...

Ashleigh E. Draft Associate Grand Rapids Labor & Employment

Ashleigh is an associate attorney currently working with the labor and employment group. She also works with higher education clients and provides support on a variety of litigation matters.

Ashleigh’s experience includes serving as a legal extern for the Michigan Court of Appeals Research Division. She also clerked for Michigan Appeals Court Judge Jane Beckering. Prior to law school, Ashleigh served organizations in the higher education and nonprofit sectors in various development and communications roles. 

William J. Whalen Labor and Employment Attorney Varnum

Bill is an associate at Varnum. He is a skilled researcher with experience in the labor and employment area as well as litigation matters. While in law school, Bill worked as an intern at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission where he responded to requests to the legal unit, analyzed investigatory files and provided research on employment discrimination, harassment and retaliation matters. He served as a law student intern for U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Michigan.

Maureen Rouse-Ayoub Labor Employment Attorney

Maureen represents clients in all areas of labor and employment. She advises clients on labor management relations including union election proceedings, collective bargaining and contract enforcement in arbitration and before the National Labor Relations Board. Maureen defends employment-related claims including discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, Whistleblowers' and Fair Labor Standards Act violations in federal and state courts, administrative proceedings and arbitration hearings. She counsels clients on drafting, implementation and enforcement of workplace policies....