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MDHHS issues guidance to help keep workplaces safe

Posted at 1:24 PM, Nov 06, 2020

LANSING, Mich. — In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has released recommendations for employers on how to keep workplaces safe.

Michigan has good reason to invest in improving its population’s ability to fight the disease. The state currently has 261 cases per million people per day, more than doubling the daily cases per million of last month. Percent positivity has also increased to 7.5% from last week’s 5.5%. Hospitalizations have been rising over the past five weeks.

Currently, there are 28 documented COVID-19 outbreaks in an office setting and the number of new outbreaks reported continue to increase.

“Given the available data and concerning increase in COVID-19 cases, employers have a crucial role to play in ensuring employees who must come to work are operating in a safe environment,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “Employers should adopt practices to make workplaces as safe as possible and work should be completed remotely unless it is strictly necessary for an employee to be in person to complete their job duties.”

Consistent with emergency rules enacted by the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity on Oct. 14, if any in-person work is being conducted, employers should be sure to take the following steps to protect the health of their employees:

  • Create a COVID preparedness plan – Employers should develop and implement a written plan to prevent employee exposure to COVID-19. This should include exposure determination and detail the measures the employer will implement to reduce employee exposure.
  • Establish clear workplace procedures – Employers should identify a workplace COVID-19 coordinator, mandate face coverings, ensure appropriate access to personal protective equipment where necessary and train employees on new procedures, such as how to facilitate physical distancing.
  • Conduct daily self-screening of staff working in person – Employers should conduct daily health evaluations that include assessment for the symptoms of COVID-19 and exclude from in-person work any symptomatic staff.
  • Strengthen workplace cleaning and disinfection procedures – Employers should take every opportunity to clean and disinfect facilities as frequently as possible, and enhanced cleaning should be performed if a sick employee is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.
  • Collaborate with local health departments – If employees contract COVID-19, local health departments will conduct contact tracing. Employees should work closely with their local health departments to ensure that all potentially affected employees are made aware of their exposure.

If possible employers should allow their employees to work from home to minimize the presence of individuals gathered in work settings where COVID-19 may spread. The only cases wherein employers should permit in-person work is if a worker is unable to physically complete required job tasks remotely, such as food service or auto assembly workers, or a job involving protected data that cannot be accessed remotely.

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