On 4/13/21, Governor Gretchen Whitmer extended Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) Emergency Rules imposing COVID-19 workplace safety requirements on employers until 10/14/21. The reissued rules are identical to prior emergency rules and continue to require employers to have a policy in place to prohibit in-person work to the extent that “work activities can feasibly be completed remotely.”
MIOSHA also released on 4/13/21 the first draft of permanent COVID-19 workplace safety rules that would apply to general industry and construction employers after a 6-12 month rule promulgation process. The draft rules come after several weeks of contention within the MIOSHA standard advisory committee chaired by MMA’s David Worthams. While the draft rules entertain minor changes from the current emergency rules and a slightly more flexible approach to permitting in-person work, they do not comply with reasonable demands of MMA and the business community.
MMA has advocated fiercely on behalf of the unique needs of the manufacturing sector under the principles that any permanent COVID-19 workplace safety rule should have a clear sunset, a sound basis in science, coordinate with federal guidance and permit flexibility for employer-specific situations.
“We need reasonable long-term solutions that recognize the COVID-19 emergency will end at some point in the future,” said David Worthams. “Michigan businesses cannot be handcuffed permanently and compete effectively in the global economy.”
Separately, the “Return-to-Office Workgroup” consisting of business, labor and public health experts, including MMA member companies Dow Chemical Company, Lear Corporation and Steelcase, is finalizing its recommendations on best practices for in-person work when permitted in office settings. Governor Whitmer has stated publicly that the recommendations of the advisory group may result in amendments to the emergency workplace safety rules in advance of its 10/14/21 expiration date.