MIOSHA COVID-19 Emergency Rule Changes
Today, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) rescinded the COVID-19 Emergency Rules that have been in place and applicable to Michigan workplaces since October 2020, and issued a new COVID-19 Emergency Rule that aligns with Federal OSHA’s recent Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) applicable only to certain health care settings.
The updated MIOSHA Emergency Rule will adopt the Federal OSHA ETS and focus on health care settings where known or suspected COVID-19 patients may be present. These workplaces may have higher exposure risk for employees and need continued protections to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The new MIOSHA Emergency Rule applicable only to certain health care settings will expire on December 22, 2021
As a result, employers in non-healthcare settings are no longer legally required to maintain a number of COVID-19 mitigation strategies, including daily entry screenings, face covering requirements, or social distancing requirements. MIOSHA expects employers to use their best judgment in determining whether to maintain such protocols, and employers should remember that they have a general duty to provide a safe workplace under MIOSHA’s General Duty Clause. Under the General Duty Clause, employers have an obligation to “furnish to each employee, employment and a place of employment that is free from recognized hazards that are causing, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm to the employees.”
MIOSHA has indicated that guidance documents, such as those issued by the CDC and federal OSHA, will continue to inform the Agency’s assessment of whether an employer is meeting its obligations under MIOSHA’s General Duty Clause. Therefore, employers should continue to consider and stay abreast of updated CDC guidance (both general and industry specific) and publications such as OSHA’s Guidelines on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 (https://www.osha.gov/sites/default/files/publications/OSHA3990.pdf) and OSHA’s recently updated Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace (https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus/safework) as they consider what COVID-19 mitigation protocols should remain in place at their workplace.
In addition to MIOSHA’s General Duty Clause, employers must continue to maintain compliance with existing MIOSHA standards and Michigan’s COVID-19 Employments Rights Act.
- MIOSHA standards applicable during the COVID-19 pandemic include:
- Personal Protective Equipment
- Respiratory Protection
- Hazard Communication
- Access to Employee Exposure & Medical Records
- Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illness
- Michigan’s COVID-19 Employment Rights Act prohibits an employee from reporting to work under certain circumstances related to COVID-19, and prohibits employers from taking certain actions against an employee who does not report to work for reasons covered under the Act.
In light of MIOSHA’s announcement, Miller Johnson is hosting two upcoming webinars addressing employers’ ongoing obligations for COVID-19 workplace safety: