WATCH: Q&A on Updated MIOSHA Workplace RulesMay 26, 2021
Michigan COVID-19 Workplace Safety Director Sean Egan hosted a webinar to discuss the recently announced updates to Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) COVID-19 emergency rules and answer questions about the impact of these changes on the workplace.
Something to keep in mind with these changes, according to Egan, is that while MIOSHA establishes baseline regulations, businesses may implement more extensive standards based on risk levels specific to the organization, employee vaccination rates, etc.
These updated emergency rules are less prescriptive and more performance-based and entail the following mitigation strategies:
- Preparedness and response plan
- Health screening
- Social distance
- Face coverings (where required)
- Training and record-keeping
What’s Still Required
COVID-19 Preparedness Response Plans
The plan should detail the measures the employer will implement to reduce employee exposure and mitigate risk, including any:
- Engineering controls
- Administrative controls
- Hygiene and environmental surface disinfection
- Personal protective equipment
- Health surveillance
Cleaning Procedures Based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidance
Employers must continue enhanced cleaning protocols in their facilities focusing on high-touch surfaces, and of course, include measures to disinfect the workspace in the instance of a COVID-19 person having been on-site.
Health screenings are still required, even for vaccinated employees. Employers should conduct daily health screenings, require employees to report when they receive a positive test or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, require employees to self-isolate by notifying supervisors and staying home, and notify employees of any possible exposures. Sick employees should not return to work until home isolation criteria are met according to CDC guidance.
Training should cover new policies and procedures like updated screening processes and employee reporting policies. Employees should also be trained on new controls like personal protective equipment requirements and workplace cleaning protocols. As part of the MIOSHA updates, employers should also be sure to include information about the available COVID-19 vaccines.
Social Distancing Rules Reflective of CDC Guidance
Employers should ensure that any employees, except those fully vaccinated, remain at least six feet from one another to the maximum extent feasible while on worksite premises.
Employers shall provide non-medical grade face coverings to employees at no cost to the employee, though they are not required to provide non-medical grade face coverings to fully vaccinated employees. The employer shall require any employee, except fully vaccinated persons, to wear face coverings when employees cannot consistently maintain six feet of separation from other individuals indoors in the workplace. Fully vaccinated persons must continue to wear face coverings when in health care settings where patients may be present and when on airplanes or public transportation as required the CDC and other federal agencies.
While not required, remote work continues to be a recommended mitigation strategy by the CDC and OSHA.
For businesses that would like additional guidance in updating workplace safety practices, MIOSHA is continuing its ambassador program through which they provide free consultation to businesses.
Top Questions Answered
Can employers collect and file a copy of an employee vaccine card?
It is fine for an employer to ask for that information, whether added to a daily health screening protocol (whether on paper or in an app) or requested separately. Good faith efforts to make sure unvaccinated employees wear face masks are allowed, including copying vaccine cards.
Should employers have employees answer COVID-19-related questions every day before work?
Daily health screening protocol continues to identify symptoms and mitigate exposure threats in the workplace. Eliminating the hazard from the workplace is the greatest preventative tool employers have. In the updates to the rules, temperature screening has been eliminated, but employers can choose whether they continue to require temperature screenings.
Are people who have recovered from COVID-19 considered vaccinated? How do the new rules apply to them if they are/are not considered vaccinated?
Fully vaccinated people do not have to quarantine with close contact individuals. Similar recommendations exist for those that have recently had COVID-19. The latest CDC updates, however, are only specific to vaccinated people.
What do you do if staff or residents refuse to wear a mask indoors?
MIOSHA rules are related to employee-employer relationships. Employers should use management discretion to ensure employees are following the rules and using safety mitigation strategies the way they are supposed to.
Can physical barriers be removed in the workplace?
Employers will have flexibility in their preparedness response plan to determine whether barriers are necessary for their workplace. It may depend on the vaccination status of the staff, but industry-specific requirements have been removed.
Updated Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) epidemic orders remove most COVID-19-related restrictions on July 1. Will MIOSHA also remove all Emergency Orders on July 1?
MIOSHA is watching the science and will make updates accordingly. It is important to note that MDHHS public health guidance differs from MIOSHA workplace guidance – the workplace is unique compared to public spaces.
Are COVID-19 supervisors required on-site at all times?
Modified rules will remove this requirement, but employers must still designate one or more coordinators.
Learn more at michigan.gov/coronavirus.