As Michigan businesses begin the process of reopening, they must comply with Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-91 (“Order”) regarding “Safeguards to protect Michigan’s workers from COVID-19.”  The Order includes detailed safety standards, with which employers in construction, manufacturing, retail, research labs, offices and restaurants, must comply, for the stated goal of protecting workers and customers from the novel coronavirus.

Whereas the specific safety standards required by the Order differ by industry, all businesses or operations that are permitted to reopen under any current or future executive orders must, at a minimum:

Preparedness and Response Plan – Develop a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan that can be readily provided to employees, labor unions and customers, via website, internal network, or by hard copy.  The plan, which must be consistent with OSHA’s “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19,” must be developed by June 1, 2020, or within two weeks of resuming in-person activities, whichever is later.

Work Site Supervisor – Designate one or more work site supervisors to monitor COVID-19 control strategies, and this person must be present at all times that workers are on-site.

Training – Provide COVID-19 training to employees that covers, at a minimum: (a) workplace infection-control practices; (b) proper use of personal protective equipment; (c) steps the employee must take to notify the business or operation of any symptoms of COVID-19 or a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19; and (d) how to report unsafe working conditions.

Screening – Conduct a daily entry self-screening protocol for all employees or contractors entering the workplace, including, at a minimum, a questionnaire covering symptoms and suspected or confirmed exposure to people with possible COVID-19.

Social Distancing – Keep everyone on the worksite premises at least six feet apart from one another to the maximum extent possible, including through the use of ground markings, signs, and physical barriers, as appropriate to the worksite.

Face Coverings – Provide non-medical grade face coverings to their employees, and require employees to wear face coverings when they cannot consistently maintain six feet of separation from other individuals in the workplace.  Face shields should be considered when employees cannot consistently maintain three feet of separation from other individuals in the workplace.

Cleaning – Increase facility cleaning and disinfection to limit exposure to COVID-19, especially on high-touch surfaces (e.g., door handles), paying special attention to parts, products, and shared equipment (e.g., tools, machinery, vehicles).  In addition, employers must adopt protocols to clean and disinfect the facility in the event of a positive COVID-19 case in the workplace.  Employers must also make cleaning supplies available to employees upon entry and at the worksite and provide time for employees to wash hands frequently or to use hand sanitizer.

Positive and High Risk Cases – When an employee is identified with a confirmed case of COVID-19, within 24 hours, notify both: (a) the local public health department, and (b) any coworkers, contractors, or suppliers who may have come into contact with the person with a confirmed case of COVID-19.  Employers may not discharge, discipline, or otherwise retaliate against employees who stay home or who leave work when they are at particular risk of infecting others with COVID-19. Employer must also establish a response plan for dealing with a confirmed infection in the workplace, including protocols for sending employees home and for temporary closures of all or part of the worksite to allow for deep cleaning.

Travel – Restrict business-related travel for employees to essential travel only.

Additional Considerations – Encourage employees to use personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer on public transportation.  Promote remote work to the fullest extent possible.  And adopt any additional infection-control measures that are reasonable in light of the work performed at the worksite and the rate of infection in the surrounding community.

Notably, the Order expressly states that the foregoing workplace standards have the “force and effect of agency rules and will be vigorously enforced by the agencies that oversee compliance with other health-and-safety rules.”  In addition, any failure to abide by the rules will also constitute a failure to provide a workplace that is free from recognized hazards within the meaning of the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Epstein Becker Green will continually monitor how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact Michigan employers and provide updates.  In the meantime, should you have any questions or wish further guidance on this or any COVID-19 issue during the current crises, please contact Adam S. Forman, Christopher A. McMican, or your Epstein Becker Green attorney.