Recognizing that businesses making the pivot to reopening as stay-at-home restrictions loosen face a number of challenges, including increasing regulations revolving around workplace safety, state officials are launching a program they believe will help make the transition.
The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity and Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration are launching a new program to support Michigan businesses to reopen safely amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The MIOSHA Ambassador Program offers education and one-on-one guidance to help businesses understand regulations on workplace safety.
“Michigan businesses and workers need support during these challenging times,” said Sean Egan, Michigan COVID-19 Workplace Director. “Education is essential with new guidance and directives regularly changing as we continue to battle with COVID-19. Ambassadors will work with businesses to correct any issues. We want to help employers understand and apply directives so they can comply, stay open and stay safe.”
MIOSHA has been working with Michigan employers to help comply with requirements of the Governor’s Executive Orders, CDC guidance and OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19. This program enhances MIOSHA’s consultative services designed and focused on education. Guidance and resources are posted at Michigan.gov/COVIDWorkplaceSafety.
Ambassadors will visit businesses statewide to offer education and support, with a focus on workplaces with a higher risk of community transmission. That includes bars, restaurants, retail stores, gas stations, convenience stores, bowling alleys and gyms. Ambassadors will not propose citations or issue penalties.
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MIOSHA Director Bart Pickelman said collaboration is “the key in the effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve heard from many employers and employees wanting to clarify regulations and determine how they apply to their specific workplace,” Pickelman said. “This ambassador effort will bring that education and support directly to businesses across the state.”
As Michigan continues to reopen the economy, employers must operate in compliance with the current Executive Orders and state and federal guidelines. Ambassadors will work with business owners and managers to best implement safety directives to help ensure a safe workplace for employees and customers. Ambassadors will utilize the Ambassador Assessment to evaluate safety precautions are put in place and will provide a toolkit of resources for additional ongoing support.
Educational materials in the Ambassador toolkit can be found at Michigan.gov/COVIDWorkplaceSafety and include:
- Sample COVID-19 preparedness and response plan
- Re-opening checklist
- MIOSHA guidelines
- Factsheets for the employer and employee
“Ensuring the business community creates safe workplaces is key to slow the spread of the virus and protect our workers,” said Steve Claywell, President of the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council. “Michigan can only continue to reopen and keep people working if we all act responsibly. If we all do our part, we can maintain the progress we’ve made against the virus as more Michiganders get back to work.”
Gerry Anderson, the DTE Energy Executive Chairman who is co-chair of the Michigan Economic Recovery Council, said “helping the business community to create safe workplaces has been key” to limiting the spread of the virus.
“Michigan’s ability to reopen the remaining portions of our economy depends on all of us remaining disciplined and doing our part – both at work and at home,” Anderson said.
Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan, called support for people and businesses during this time “critical.”
“We have to be vigilant and work together to support a strong economy and limit the spread of the virus,” Rothwell said. “But it all starts with education. Business owners want to do their part, but they need to know exactly what is required of them.”
Former lieutenant governor Brian Calley, now the president of the Small Business Association of Michigan, said business owners “face a fluid set of complex issues” that require support to navigate.
“As guidance from the state continues to evolve, with different rules governing various regions and industries, business owners need to know exactly what they mean and how to apply them,” Calley said. “Ongoing education is necessary to keep the economy moving.”
Additional information to ensure safe and healthy working conditions can also be found online at Michigan.gov/COVIDWorkplaceSafety.