Safeguards to Protect Michigan's Workers

Last Thursday, Governor Whitmer issued two new Executive Orders of particular importance to Michigan employers. EO 2020-96 expands the list of industries permitted to operate in-person to include medical facilities, building trades, manufacturers and retailers, among others. EO 2020-97 lays out detailed workplace safeguards that must be followed by employers already operating, or planning to operate, in-person.

By June 1 or within two weeks of resuming in-person operations, whichever is later, employers need to roll out a COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan consistent with OSHA’s Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19. (Note: OSHA provides additional, industry-specific guidance on its website.) The Plan needs to be made available to employees either in hard copy or online. Significantly, EO 2020-97 states that a business that violates its provisions (and presumably that includes failing to create a Plan document) has violated OSHA’s dictate to provide “a place of employment that is free from recognized hazards.” In other words, failure to implement the Order’s requirements can result in liability under OSHA and can justify an employee’s refusal to report to work.

EO 2020-97 lays out eighteen specific safeguards all employers should implement. Those include workplace training, daily entry screening, use of safety masks, and heightened cleaning and notice requirements, among others. The Order goes on to provide additional industry-specific safeguards for outdoor businesses, construction, manufacturing, research labs, retail, office, restaurants and bars, and outpatient health facilities (doctors, dentists and vets).

The new requirements can seem overwhelming. But Michigan businesses do not need to reinvent the wheel. Using the OSHA Guidance and EO 2020-97 itself as templates, employers should methodically work through the safeguards, determine how they will be implemented, and document those determinations in a form to share with employees. Need help? Contact us at info@wrightbeamer.com or (248) 477-6300.