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Required Safeguards for Michigan Workers During COVID-19 Phased Reopening

May 19, 2020

Today, Michigan’s Governor issued two Executive Orders that, among other things: (1) announce new required safeguards for businesses once they are permitted to resume operations; and (2) continue the state’s phased reopening plan, starting in Michigan’s northern counties.  More specifically, Executive Order 2020-91 requires all employers who are permitted to resume operations to engage in certain actions, such as developing preparedness plans and conducting COVID-19 training for employees. In addition, certain business sectors may be subject to other industry-specific requirements.   This Order further states that any business or operation that violates these requirements will have failed to provide a place of employment that is free from recognized hazards in violation of the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act.  Furthermore, Governor Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-92, which continues Michigan’s phased reopening.  Employers restarting operations should review all applicable provisions before welcoming workers back to in-person worksites.

Michigan Begins the Return to “Normal”

Under Executive Order 2020-92, certain offices, retail operations, and restaurants and bar will be able to reopen on May 22, 2020 beginning at 12:01 a.m.  The phased reopening generally affects operations in the Upper Peninsula and the Traverse City region.  Individuals in these locations will be able to go to a restaurant or retail store, or attend a social gathering of up to 10 people. 

Requirements for All Business and Operations

In combination with Executive Order 2020-92, Executive Order 2020-91 establishes a number of requirements for all businesses that will begin resuming operations.  In particular, resuming businesses must: 

  1. Develop a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan. By June 1, 2020 or within two weeks of resuming in-person activities, whichever is later, the plan must be readily available to employees, labor unions, and customers.
  2. Designate one or more supervisors to implement, monitor, and report on the COVID-19 control strategies under the COVID-19 preparedness and response plan. Designated supervisors must be on-site at all times when employees are present.
  3. Train employees on COVID-19 topics, including:
    • Workplace infection-control practices,
    • Proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE),
    • How an employee must notify the business of any symptoms of COVID-19 or a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, and
    • How to report unsafe working conditions.
  4. Conduct daily entry self-screening protocol for all employees or contractors entering the workplace. At a minimum, this must include a questionnaire covering the symptoms and suspected or confirmed exposure to people with possible COVID-19.
  5. Keep all individuals on the worksite at least six feet from one another to the maximum extent possible. Use ground markings, signs, and physical barriers as appropriate to the worksite.
  6. Provide non-medical grade face coverings to most employees. (Supplies of N95 masks and surgical masks remain reserved, for now, for health care professionals, first responders (e.g., police officers, fire fighters, paramedics), and other critical workers.)
    • Require face coverings to be worn when employees cannot consistently maintain six feet of separation from other individuals in the workplace.
    • Consider face shields when employees cannot consistently maintain three feet of separation from other individuals in the workplace.
  7. Increase facility cleaning and disinfection to limit exposure to COVID-19. Pay special attention to high-touch surfaces, parts, products and shared equipment.
  8. Develop a protocol to clean and disinfect the workplace in the event of a positive COVID-19 case in the workplace.
  9. Make cleaning supplies available to employees upon entry and at the worksite.
  10. Provide time for employees to wash hands frequently or use hand sanitizer.
  11. When an employee is identified with a confirmed case of COVID-19, notify both the local public health department and any co-workers, contractors, or suppliers who may have come into contact with the person with a confirmed case of COVID-19 within 24 hours.
  12. Establish a response plan for dealing with a confirmed infection in the workplace, including protocols for sending employees home and for temporary closure of all or part of the worksite to allow for deep cleaning.
  13. Restrict business-related travel for employees to essential travel only.
  14. Encourage employees to use PPE and hand sanitizer on public transportation.
  15. Promote remote work to the fullest extent possible.
  16. Adopt any additional infection-control measures that are reasonable in light of the work and rate of infection in the surrounding community.

Additional Industry-Specific Requirements

Order 2020-91 also sets out specific requirements for certain businesses based on the work performed or the work location, including:

  1. Work primarily and traditionally performed outdoors;
  2. Construction industry;
  3. Manufacturing facilities;
  4. Research laboratories (this does not include laboratories that perform diagnostic testing);
  5. Retail stores open for in-store sales;
  6. Offices; and
  7. Restaurants and bars.

From disabling water fountains to requiring a written doctor’s release to return to work if an employee has a confirmed case of COVID-19, the industry-specific requirements are varied and extensive.  Please contact your relationship attorney or one of one of Honigman’s Labor and Employment attorneys for further information on how the Order may impact your business operations.