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With COVID-19 cases rising, State emphasizes worker protections in offices, remote work policies

MIOSHA issues employer COVID-19 safety requirements clarifications
Posted at 1:21 PM, Nov 12, 2020

LANSING, Mich. — As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Michigan, State leaders are taking steps to fight back the disease.

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) launched a State Emphasis Program (SEP) focused on office settings that addresses the need for increased education and enforcement on remote work policies.

One of the major sources of COVID-19 outbreaks is the workplace. Earlier this month the Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) reported 18 new outbreaks from the previous week tied to office settings, and is tracking 21 outbreaks tied to offices previously reported.

“Workplace outbreaks are increasing along with the state’s community numbers,” said Director of COVID-19 Workplace Safety Sean Egan. “While employers are working hard to mitigate the spread, congregation of individuals whether at the workplace or a social gathering can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.”

MIOSHA will conduct inspections at workplaces with traditional office settings to review how rules are being followed and enhance compliance. While inspections will seek to help employers comply with safety standards, if the inspections determine deficiencies in the employer’s COVID-19 preparedness and response plans, citations and penalties up to $7,000 may be issued.

Under the Emergency Rules, businesses that resume in-person work must have a written COVID-19 preparedness and response plan and provide thorough training to their employees that covers, at a minimum, workplace infection-control practices, the proper use of personal protection equipment (PPE), steps workers must take to notify the business or operation of any symptoms of COVID-19 or a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, and how to report unsafe working conditions.

A set of online resources at Michigan.gov/COVIDWorkplaceSafety provides businesses with the guidelines they and their employees must follow and includes a sample COVID-19 preparedness and response plan and a reopening checklist to help businesses put safeguards in place.

To report health and safety concerns in the workplace, go to Michigan.gov/MIOSHAcomplaint.

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