MIOSHA Amends COVID-19 Emergency Rules as Michigan Eases Workplace Restrictions

Effective May 24, 2021, The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) revised its COVID-19 Emergency Rules. The change comes as more Michiganders have received vaccines and COVID-19 cases have decreased.

Remote Work and Masking Practices

Most significantly, the newly amended rules completely eliminate the requirement that employers must create a policy prohibiting in-person work for employees to the extent that their work activities can feasibly be done completely remotely, meaning employees can be mandated to return to their physical workplace. The rules now come closer to mirroring the most recent guidance issued by the CDC. Notably, employers may now allow fully vaccinated employees to go unmasked in the workplace even when they cannot consistently maintain a six-foot distance from other individuals.  However, fully vaccinated persons must continue to wear face coverings when in the healthcare setting where patients may be present and when using airplane or public transportation as required by CDC guidance.

Approach to Unvaccinated Employees

Employers can do one of four things to satisfy the MIOSHA requirement requiring unvaccinated people to still mask up and maintain social distance while lifting safety rules for vaccinated employees:

  • Keep records of which employees are vaccinated and require all others to wear masks and practice social distancing
  • Post signs in work areas reminding people that unvaccinated employees must still wear masks and practice social distancing
  • Allow or require remote work
  • Require masks and distancing for all workers, regardless of vaccination status

Safety Protocols Still in Place

Employers should note that, while the updated rule requires continued self-screening protocol for all employees or contractors entering the workplace (daily screening no longer requires temperature screening, but can be at a minimum a questionnaire covering symptoms and suspected or confirmed exposure to people with possible COVID-19), it appears that self-screening records only need to be retained for non-vaccinated employees or contractors.  Employers are required to designate “1 or more worksite COVID-19 safety coordinators to implement, monitor, and report on the COVID-19 control strategies developed under these rules.”

The rules are in effect until October 14, 2021. Michigan employers are well advised to review the amended rules and update their COVID-19 policies accordingly.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.