MIOSHA Issues Temporary Emergency Rules for Managing COVID-19 in the Workplace
Following the October 2, 2020 Michigan Supreme Court decision invalidating Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s pandemic executive orders, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) issued temporary emergency rules to help control, prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Effective October 14, 2020, these rules apply to all employers currently covered by Michigan’s Occupational Health and Safety Act. MIOSHA promulgated these rules at the behest of business associations and unions asking for a more formal and understandable framework to handle COVID-19 in the workplace. The rules remain in effect for six months and can be extended for another six months upon Governor Whitmer’s certification of need.
Under the rules, employers must go beyond simply creating a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan consistent with CDC and OSHA guidance. Employers must now make an exposure determination by categorizing job tasks and procedures based on actual or anticipated contact with suspected or known COVID-19 cases.
Based on the various exposure levels anticipated in the workplace, employers must develop and implement a written preparedness and response plan detailing measures to prevent exposure. This will include engineering controls, administrative controls, basic infection prevention measures, personal protective equipment, health surveillance and training. The plan must be communicated to employees by hard copy or company website or intranet.
Infection Prevention Measures
Basic infection prevention measures must include promotion of hand hygiene, preventing sick employees from reporting to the workplace, limiting shared equipment, and increased facility cleaning and disinfection. Notably, the rules require employers to create a policy prohibiting in-person work where work activities can feasibly be done remotely.
Heightened health surveillance measures are now required, including daily entry self-screening for all entering the workplace, such as a symptoms and exposure questionnaire and temperature check. Employees must promptly report COVID-19 symptoms. Employers must isolate employees known or suspected to have COVID-19 from the rest of the workforce. The local public health department must be immediately notified of a confirmed case, and co-workers, contractors or suppliers who may have had contact must be notified within 24 hours.
Additional workplace controls must be instituted, including designation of an on-site safety coordinator responsible for implementing, monitoring and reporting the control strategies implemented. Signage, markings and physical barriers should be used to remind employees of proper hand hygiene and keeping appropriate distance. Face coverings must be provided at no cost to the employee.
Personal Protective Equipment
Personal protective equipment, including respirators if necessary, must be provided appropriate to the exposure risk associated with the job and in accordance with current CDC and OSHA guidelines. More specific requirements are listed for various industries, namely construction, manufacturing, retail, restaurants and bars, health care, in-home and personal services, public accommodations, sports and exercise facilities, meat processing plants and casinos.
Training and Recordkeeping
The rules require employers to train employees on infection control practices, proper use of personal protective equipment, notification of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases and reporting of unsafe working conditions. Records must also be kept of the training, screening protocols and notifications made under these rules.