Whitmer enacts new worker protections as businesses reopen

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gives an update on COVID-19 | Gov. Whitmer office photo

Businesses like manufacturing facilities and real estate offices resuming in-person operations are now required to develop a COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan under a new order signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday.

“I’m expanding worker protections today because people’s health and safety are my No. 1 priority,” said Whitmer.

Businesses will be required to show the plan to their employees, and to provide employees with COVID-19 training covering topics like infection control practices and how to properly use personal protective equipment (PPE).

Businesses also are required to train workers about how to report unsafe work conditions. Workers who want to report health and safety concerns in the workplace may do so here.

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“Nobody in Michigan should feel unsafe when they go back to work,” said Whitmer. “Nobody should be worried about their family member or loved one while they’re at work.”

Businesses have until June 1 to submit their COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan to the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO).

Michigan Attorney Dana Nessel said Whitmer’s order that expands worker protections provides a roadmap prioritizing Michiganders’ health and safety.

“COVID-19 has changed how we must think about workplace safety,” said Nessel. “[Since] every worker in every industry across this state is impacted by the threat of this virus, we must work with our businesses to educate them on their responsibilities and then we must be diligent in ensuring that they abide by them.”

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) within LEO also launched a new hotline to answer questions that workers and employers may have about COVID-19.

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They can reach the hotline, operated by MIOSHA staff, by calling 855-SAFEC19 (855-723-3219).

Whitmer on Monday also signed an executive directive calling for Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) Director Jeff Donofrio to appoint a Director of COVID-19 Workplace Safety to coordinate the state’s efforts to monitor and enforce workplace safeguards.

Her directive also calls for each department and agency with responsibility for enforcing workplace health and safety standards to publicly post citations of employers who fail to follow the rules adopted in Executive Order 2020-91 and to consider establishing a process to remove the postings once the employers comply with the order.