Coronavirus May 7, 2020, marks the re-opening in Michigan of the construction industry and other business segments from a broad stay-in-place order. Specifically, Governor Whitmer has begun to relax her prior stay-in-place order, allowing the resumption of some types of work.

Such work is expected to present a lower risk of infection and spread as Michigan continues to deal with high numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths. The most recent data shows Michigan has over 45,000 confirmed cases and over 4,000 deaths.

Why it Matters:

There is enormous pressure for Michigan, like the rest of the United States, to lift coronavirus health and safety restrictions limiting economic activity. But is it safe?

Michigan’s confirmed COVID-19 cases show signs of tapering off, the number of cases and deaths remain high. However, the evidence is mounting that the coronavirus outbreak is far from under control here and across the United States. Consider 72,000 Americans who have been killed by COVID-19 and over 1.2 million infected according to reporting by John Hopkins University.

Against this backdrop, Michigan’s Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity issued requirements for these employers and provided further guidance on best practices for protecting workers and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

These guidelines and will also provide guidance, in whole or part, for other industries as Michigan looks to transition from stay-in-place to staying safe while returning to work. But the bottom line is that companies are and will continue to modify “business as usual” post-pandemic. Hopefully, these new requirements provide a good foundation.

The Guidelines for Construction Employers:

Under Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order (Executive Order 2020-70), construction industry employers may go back to work, but are must:

  • Designate a site supervisor to enforce COVID-19 control strategies.
  • Conduct daily health screenings for workers.
  • Create dedicated entry points, if possible, or issuing stickers or other indicators to assure that all workers are screened every day.
  • Identify choke points and high-risk areas (like hallways, hoists, and elevators, break areas, water stations, and buses) and controlling them to enable social distancing.
  • Ensure sufficient hand-washing or hand-sanitizing stations at the worksite.
  • Develop a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan, consistent with recommendations in OSHA’s Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19.
  • Keep workers and patrons on premises at least six feet from one another to the maximum extent possible.
  • Increase standards of facility cleaning to limit worker and patron exposure to COVID-19.
  • Provide personal protective equipment such as gloves, goggles, face shields, and face masks as appropriate for the activity being performed.

Further, Michigan government officials and construction industry leaders have drafted best practice guidelines of employer responsibilities to further minimize the spread of coronavirus risks. These guidelines include:

  • Training and administrative controls
  • Access control
  • Policies governing social distancing
  • Policies governing disinfection/sanitation
  • Personal hygiene
  • Policies governing personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Positive case protocols
  • Facility closure scenarios

Coronavirus Legal Consultation

If you’re concerned about your employment rights or the safety of your workplace in relation to these COVID-19 workplace safety protocols use this link to begin your consultation.

Michigan attorney Jason Shinn has litigated legal issues involving the protection of employees’ rights and safety since 2001.