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New Executive Orders Revise Michigan’s Worker Safety Rules

July 10, 2020

On Thursday, July 9, 2020 Michigan Gov. Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-145, which provides for revised workplace safety rules to protect Michigan workers from COVID-19 and rescinds Executive Order 2020-114. Specifically, the revised rules now require all businesses to do the following:

  • Require face coverings in shared spaces, including during in-person meetings and in restrooms and hallways;
  • Provide any communication and training on COVID-19 infection control practices in the primary languages common in the employee population; and
  • Place posters in the languages common in the employee population that encourage staying home when sick, cough and sneeze etiquette, and proper hand hygiene practices.

Executive Order 2020-145 also incorporates new requirements for restaurants and bars, as set forth in Executive Order 2020-143. Furthermore, the governor has established workplace safety rules for meat and poultry processing plants, which include:

  • Conducting daily entry screening at dedicated entry points for all workers, suppliers and visitors;
  • Configuring communal work environments so employees are spaced at least six feet apart;
  • Requiring employees to wear a face mask whenever present at the facility, except when removal is necessary to eat or drink;
  • Providing and requiring use of personal protective equipment including clean cloth face coverings, face shields, etc., as required by the order;
  • Installing physical barriers, such as strip curtains or Plexiglas, to separate meat and poultry processing employees;
  • Taking measures to ensure adequate ventilation in work areas;
  • Staggering employees’ arrival, departure, break and lunch times to avoid congregations of employees;
  • Reducing processing capacity or modifying production lines and/or staggering workers to minimize the number of employees in the facility at any one time; and
  • Disinfecting an employee’s workstation and tools handled by the employee if the employee becomes or reports being sick.

In addition, on Friday, July 10, 2020 Gov. Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-147 addressing masks and face coverings. Businesses subject to this order must come into compliance with the requirements by Monday, July 13, 2020. Failure to comply with this order may result in a loss of operating licenses including, but not limited to, a liquor license. Specifically, the order states that “…no business that is open to the public may provide service to a customer or allow a customer to enter its premises, unless the customer is wearing a face covering as required by this order”. Thus, the requirements imposed on businesses by this order are limited to customers, and businesses should continue to apply the appropriate face covering rules set forth in Executive Order 2020-145 with regard to their own employees. Child care centers and day, residential, travel or troop camps are not considered businesses open to the public for purposes of this order. Governors in the states of Kansas, Maine, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Washington have imposed similar requirements on businesses.

Businesses open to the public must, however, permit entry and provide services to certain individuals not wearing a face covering, including individuals who are younger than five years old and those who cannot medically tolerate a face covering. Businesses may also ask customers to temporarily remove their face covering for identification purposes. In addition, customers are allowed to remove their masks when engaged in specific services, including when they are eating or drinking while seated, exercising or receiving a service for which temporary removal is necessary.

Businesses are also required to post signs at entrances instructing customers of their legal obligation to wear a face covering while inside. At this time, signs do not need to contain any particular language; however, the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity may later require businesses to post signs developed by the department or conform with department-established requirements.

Lastly, Michigan employers should take note that Executive Order 2020-147 mistakenly states that it replaces Executive Order 2020-114.

Should you have any questions about how Executive Order 2020-145 or Executive Order 2020-147 may impact your business or operation, or if you need assistance updating COVID-19 employment policies, please contact any member of Varnum’s labor and employment team for assistance. 

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