OSHA and MIOSHA Ramp Up Fines for COVID Safety Breaches
September 26, 2020
As reported a couple of weeks ago in EPTW, the fines and penalties for breach of employer safety obligations surrounding COVID contagion continues to ramp up. Late last week fines by MIOSHA against 19 more employers were announced. These fines amounted to over $50,000 for infractions including:
- Failing to require employees to wear face masks and maintain social distancing
- Not having a preparedness and response plan
- Not doing daily employee screening
- Not training (and keeping records of such) employees on COVID-19 safety protocols
- Failing to post signs at the entrance to the facility
- Failing to designate a COVID-19 workplace supervisor
- Failing to provide cleaning supplies
- All infractions of standard COVID safety protocols outlined by the Governor’s Executive Order (EO) 2020-175 and the preceding EO’s on same
These fines came from site inspections resulting from complaints but also regularly scheduled inspections where apparently the employer did not take COVID safety protocol practices as a serious concern.
MIOSHA is directly responsible for Michigan employer safety compliance. Additionally, at the federal level the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) overseas business safety compliance in states that do not have their own employer safety and health program. OSHA is ramping up their COVID enforcement as well. Just being at the start of their enforcement actions, OSHA reported fining two meatpacking companies over $29,000. This followed fines against three health providers.
Michigan employers are advised to implement and internally enforce the COVID safety protocols specific to their industry, at the very least.
- If MIOSHA/OSHA has issued specific guidance for your industry, follow it.
- If there is no specific guidance, look to the general guidance on proactive measures you can take to protect workers, such as social distancing or, when that is not available, using physical barriers, face shields, and face coverings. Keep in mind that this guidance can change, so stay up to date.
- Put up signs that remind employees to social distance and wear face coverings.
- Enforce your safety measures. Just like you would not let an employee work without a hard hat or safety glasses, you cannot let an employee work without a face covering.
Don’t forget to maintain injury and illness logs and make them available as required.