Businesses Face Stricter Enforcement of COVID-19 Regulations as Workplace Outbreaks IncreaseNovember 9, 2020
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and MIOSHA have established guidelines and regulations to prevent outbreaks in the workplace and slow the spread of the virus among employees and patrons. Increased laxity in adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols in the workplace is cause for concern and prompting this increased vigilance from these agencies to ensure businesses are taking all necessary precautions to keep their communities safe and economy thriving.
Of key importance is making sure that employees who can conduct their work remotely, are doing so to minimize the presence of individuals gathered in work settings where COVID-19 may spread. The MDHHS states employers should only permit in-person work if a worker is unable to physically complete required job tasks from a remote setting, such as food service or auto assembly workers, or a job involving protected data that cannot be accessed remotely.
According to an MDHHS press release issued last week, there are 28 documented COVID-19 outbreaks in office settings and the number of new outbreaks reported continues to increase weekly. Office settings make up 5% of all documented outbreaks, and 7% of new outbreaks identified in the last week. Additionally, 8.3% of current outbreaks are in manufacturing and construction and 33% of those were first identified in the last week. If any in-person work is being conducted, MDHHS recommends employers should take the following actions to protect the health of their employees:
- Create a COVID-19 preparedness plan. Employers should develop and implement a written plan to prevent employee exposure to COVID-19. This should include exposure determination and detail the measures the employer will implement to reduce employee exposure.
- Establish clear workplace procedures. Employers should identify a workplace COVID-19 coordinator, mandate face coverings, ensure appropriate access to personal protective equipment where necessary, and train employees on new procedures, such as how to facilitate physical distancing.
- Conduct daily self-screening of staff working in person. Employers should conduct daily health evaluations that include assessment for the symptoms of COVID-19 and exclude from in-person work any symptomatic staff.
- Strengthen workplace cleaning and disinfection procedures. Employers should take every opportunity to clean and disinfect facilities as frequently as possible, and enhanced cleaning should be performed if a sick employee is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.
- Collaborate with local health departments. If employees contract COVID-19, local health departments will conduct contact tracing. Employees should work closely with their local health departments to ensure that all potentially affected employees are made aware of their exposure.
Additional workplace guidance is available here, and the following resources outline MIOSHA’s COVID-19 regulations with which businesses should comply:
- MIOSHA: COVID-19 Safety Regulations Not Impacted by Supreme Court Decision
- WATCH | Live Q&A on MIOSHA Emergency Rules With Michigan’s COVID-19 Workplace Safety Safety Director
An announcement regarding increased business oversight is expected from the state this week.