COVID-19 Safe Workplace training UPDATE

COVID-19 Training Citations Valid, Says MIOSHA after Supreme Court Strikes Down Executive Order

Update: On October 14, 2020, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) issued Emergency Rules implementing COVID-19 workplace safety requirements for businesses that resume in-person work, including employee training. The Emergency Rules are effective immediately and remain in effect for six months. 

Although the Michigan Supreme Court invalidated the Governor’s COVID-19 Executive Orders, MIOSHA continues to conduct workplace safety inspections – and as recently as October 2 – issued “general duty” clause citations to several businesses for failing to provide employee training.

Likewise, several guidance materials issued by MIOSHA refer to employee training as a necessary COVID-19 workplace safety measure. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has also issued an Emergency Order to fill the gap for some workplace safety measures.

The Michigan Supreme Court Ruling

On October 2, 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that Governor Whitmer did not have the authority under state law to issue Executive Orders related to COVID-19. See In re Certified Questions from the United States District Court, Western District of Michigan (Mich. October 2, 2020).

Shortly after the ruling, Governor Whitmer requested the court delay the effect of the ruling until October 30, 2020, to give the state time to prepare. On October 12, 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court denied the Governor’s request. The Michigan Attorney General has stated her office will no longer enforce the Governor’s COVID-19 Executive Orders. 

The Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling likely invalidates Executive Order 2020-114, which requires employers to take certain COVID-19 workplace safety measures, including employee training. 

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Emergency Order

To fill the void of the now invalid Executive Orders, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued an Emergency Order on October 9th, implementing certain capacity limitations and face-covering mandates. Notably, the Emergency Order does not impose other previously mandated COVID-19 workplace safety measures, such as employee training. The MDHHS maintains that it has the authority to issue emergency orders under a separate state statute not addressed by the Michigan Supreme Court’s decision. The Emergency Order is in effect until October 30, 2020.

Michigan Occupational Safety & Health Administration 

On October 2, 2020, the Michigan Occupational Safety & Health Administration (MIOSHA)  issued multiple “general duty” citations to several businesses for failing to provide employees with COVID-19 workplace safety training. MIOSHA currently takes the position that the Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling does not invalidate these and other previously issued citations because, under Michigan law, an employer is required to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards that are likely to cause serious physical harm or death (“general duty” clause).

Moreover, MIOSHA has also adopted a COVID-19 Interim Enforcement Plan explaining how it intends to issue citations for COVID-19 workplace hazards. Importantly, the Plan continues to note as workplace safety hazards many of the same requirements found in Governor Whitmer’s COVID-19 Executive Order, including social distancing, face coverings, and employee training. Other MIOSHA COVID-19 guidance materials continue to refer to employee training as a necessary COVID-19 workplace safety measure.

Should Employers Continue to Provide COVID-19 Workplace Safety Training?

Given that MIOSHA is currently conducting workplace safety inspections and issuing “general duty” clause citations, employers should continue to provide employee training in accordance with MIOSHA’s COVID-19 workplace safety guidelines. Indeed, a general duty clause citation in Michigan carries a fine of up to $7,000.

Clear Law Institute will continue to monitor developments in Michigan on this issue and provide any necessary updates.

Why Clear Law Institute?

Clear Law Institute’s online COVID-19 Safe Workplace Training complies with all state training mandates, CDC and OSHA guidelines, as well as industry best practices. The online training is self-paced, fully narrated, and includes numerous interactive animations, video demonstrations, and exercises to keep employees engaged. 

Clear Law Institute provides online training to over 1,000 employers, handles training roll-out to employees, supports tech issues, and tracks course completions.

Contact us for a FREE TRIAL of Online COVID-19 Safe Workplace Training.

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