Expect MIOSHA-Style Workplace Safety Rules to Go Nationwide

As Michigan businesses prepared to re-open following last spring’s COVID-19 lockdown, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued several executive orders requiring enhanced workplace safety measures. After the Michigan Supreme Court curtailed the governor’s executive authority, the state Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, through the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration, imposed many of the same requirements in Emergency Rules published October 14, 2020.

Among other things, MIOSHA’s Emergency Rules instruct businesses to:

  • require remote work where possible;
  • develop a Preparedness Plan;
  • implement daily screening procedures for employees;
  • mandate masks in public spaces;
  • introduce social distancing rules;
  • provide safety training;
  • follow additional industry-specific guidelines.

The rules include record-keeping requirements as well. Businesses that fail to follow the rules risk an unsafe workplace determination by MIOSHA with all of the attendant consequences.

Last Thursday, President Joe Biden signed an executive order requiring the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) – the federal counterpart to MIOSHA – to provide updated safety guidance to employers within the next two weeks. While the executive order does not specify what will be included, it is reasonable to assume that the anticipated guidance will result in heightened safety requirements at the federal level. If so, employers across the country may soon be implementing mandatory response plans and safety precautions similar to those already in place in Michigan.

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