As Michigan Businesses Reopen, Gov. Whitmer Issues New Executive Order Imposing Expansive New Employee Safeguards

Michigan_workplace_protections_coronavirus“Creating an enforceable set of workplace standards that apply to all businesses across the state,”

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-91 and Executive Directive 2020-6 on May 18, 2020, mandating that employers in the state implement numerous safeguards to protect their employees from COVID‑19.

According to the order, “businesses must do their part to protect their employees, their patrons, and their communities.” Importantly, the order provides that “failure to abide by the rules will also constitute a failure to provide a workplace that is free from recognized hazards within the meaning of the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act, MCL 408.1011.”

Because failure to abide by the requirements could subject an employer to fines and other sanctions, business owners need to understand their obligations and should read the order and directive carefully. Pursuant to the order, Michigan businesses that open and conduct in-person operations must:

  • Develop a COVID‑19 Preparedness and Response Plan consistent with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID‑19 (“Plan”) and make it available to employees, customers and the public by June 1, 2020, or within two weeks of resuming in-person activities, whichever is later.
  • Designate one or more worksite supervisors to implement, monitor, and report on the COVID-19 control strategies developed in accordance with the Plan. The supervisor must remain on-site at all times when employees are present on site. An on-site employee may be designated to perform the supervisory role.
  • Provide COVID‑19 training to employees that covers, at a minimum:
    • workplace infection-control practices;
    • proper use of personal protective equipment;
    • steps an employee must take to notify the business of any symptoms or suspected/confirmed diagnosis of COVID‑19; and
    • how to report unsafe working conditions.
  • Conduct a daily entry self-screening protocol for employees and contractors to identify any symptoms and suspected or confirmed exposure to COVID‑19. This protocol must include, at a minimum, a questionnaire covering symptoms and suspected or confirmed exposure to people with possible COVID-19.
  • Provide non-medical grade face coverings for all employees and require that they be worn when employees cannot consistently maintain six feet of separation.
  • Adopt protocols to clean and disinfect their facilities in the event of a positive COVID-19 case.
  • Notify the local health department and all employees/contractors who may have come in contact with any employee who tests positive for COVID‑19 within 24 hours of becoming aware of the positive test.
  • Restrict business-related travel to essential travel only.
  • Promote remote work to the fullest extent possible.
  • Adopt any additional infection-control measures that are reasonable in light of the work performed at the worksite and the rate of infection in the surrounding community

In addition to these general requirements, the order also includes specific sections imposing additional health and safety obligations on:

  • Outdoor businesses
  • The construction industry
  • Manufacturing facilities
  • Research laboratories
  • Retail stores
  • Offices
  • Restaurants and bars.

Based on this order, it is clear that the journey to reopen Michigan will be a lengthy one.  Employers that are currently operational will have to move quickly to meet these standards by the June 1 effective date. Businesses that are contemplating reopening must also review these requirements and establish a reasonable timeline for implementation.

Call Kreis Enderle With Questions About COVID-19 and Resuming Your Business Operations

We know this is an unprecedented time for business owners. Kreis Enderle remains steadfastly committed to providing guidance, counsel, and advocacy to help our clients weather the storm.

If you have questions regarding the latest Executive Order or any other aspects of how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting your business, please contact the Business Law Practice Group at Kreis Enderle today.

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