Michigan extends COVID workplace emergency rules that cover remote working, safety protocols

Emergency rules extended another 6 months

A sign requiring face masks. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File) (Eric Gay, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan has extended its workplace emergency rules that require remote working when possible and enforce other COVID-19 safety measures at businesses.

The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity extended the rules by six months -- until Oct. 14. They were scheduled to expire Wednesday (April 14), but MIOSHA issued an extension as COVID-19 cases rise throughout the state.

Michigan officials said the rules can be adjusted or withdrawn at any time, depending on COVID-19 metrics in the state.

“MIOSHA’s emergency rules help keep us all safe by ensuring that employers implement common sense safety standards to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. “When employers maintain a safe workplace, that gives workers and consumers the confidence to keep our economy moving.”

Emergency rules

The emergency rules require employees to work remotely when feasible to reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19 in the workplace.

In-person work is allowed for jobs that can’t be done otherwise, but remote work is strongly recommended, Michigan officials said.

Businesses that resume in-person work have to maintain a written COVID-19 preparedness and response plan and provide thorough training to employees. That training must cover workplace infection control practices, how to use personal protection equipment, steps to notify the business about COVID-19 symptoms and how to report unsafe working conditions.

“It’s important to note that the emergency rules implement workplace safeguards for all Michigan businesses,” MIOSHA Director Bart Pickelman said. “The rules also include requirements for specific industries, including manufacturing, construction, retail, health care, exercise facilities, restaurants and bars.”

The rules establish safety requirements regarding gathering sizes, masks, capacity limits and other measures.

Anyone with questions can call MIOSHA at 855-723-3219 or click here for more information.

COVID-19 outbreaks in workplaces

Since March 2020, employers have reported more than 40 worker deaths from COVID-19 in Michigan, and MIOSHA has received over 12,000 complaints from employees alleging COVID-19 hazards in the workplace, according to state officials.

More than 605 referrals have been received from local government agencies indicating that businesses weren’t taking all the necessary measures to protect employees from infection.

“As we work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the rules reinforce the importance of keeping workplaces safe for employees from COVID-19 transmission,” said COVID-19 workplace safety Director Sean Egan. “We want employers to create a safe work environment for their employees, which is why we will continue to work with employees and businesses to help them understand how to safely stay open.”

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has reported 670 COVID-19 outbreaks in manufacturing and construction, 374 outbreaks in retail, 332 outbreaks in office settings, 250 outbreaks in restaurants and bars and 52 outbreaks in personal care services.

Click here to visit the MIOSHA Ambassador Program page. The program has given more than 3,700 businesses free education on workplace safety and helps with the implementation of policies to create a safe environment.

About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.