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State issues COVID-19 citations for workplace safety violations, urges businesses to protect employees

LANSING — To protect Michigan’s workforce and workplaces, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) has been working with businesses across the state on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Following several inspections, MIOSHA has issued the first round of COVID-19 “general duty” citations. MIOSHA cited six different businesses with serious violations for failing to uphold safe and healthy practices, potentially putting workers in harm’s way.

“We’re focused on education first so employers know what they must do to safely reopen. But a failure to follow guidelines puts everyone at risk. While these citations are necessary to prevent potential serious illness, they are not a reflection of the tremendous cooperation we have seen from employers and their workers across the state,” said Michigan COVID-19 Workplace Safety Director Sean Egan. “A vast majority of businesses are doing their part to keep our economy open by following the proper guidance.”

The MIOSHA “general duty” clause requires an employer to provide a workplace that is free from recognized hazards that are causing, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm to the employee. A general duty clause citation carries a fine of up to $7,000.

To get open and stay open, we urge every employer to familiarize themselves with the information at Michigan.gov/COVIDWorkplaceSafety. On-site inspections conducted by MIOSHA’s general industry and construction industry enforcement divisions determined six companies allegedly committed serious violations by failing to implement necessary precautions to protect employees from contracting COVID-19. Deficiencies included a lack of health screenings, face coverings, employee training, cleaning measures and overall preparedness plans.

The cited companies will have 15 working days from receipt of the MIOSHA citations to contest the violations and penalties. The citations include suggestions to fix the hazards to protect employees. Employers must provide proof to MIOSHA that abatement has been completed. The first group of MIOSHA COVID-19 general duty citations included the following companies, a list of the citations can be found below:

— United Shore Financial Services, LLC, based in Pontiac

— UPS distribution facility based in Livonia, MI

— Speedway, LLC, gas station and convenience store location based in Waterford, MI

— Coop’s Iron Works, a fitness center based in Saginaw, MI

— Dan Freed, a residential contractor based in Eaton Rapids, MI

— Hills Roofing, LLC based in Niles, MI

“The MIOSHA investigations determined that these six employers were clearly not taking the appropriate steps to protect employees and their communities from the spread of COVID-19,” MIOSHA Director Bart Pickelman said. “These citations are meant to reiterate the employer’s duty. Precautions are necessary to establish and maintain a work environment where everyone can return home safe and healthy.”

MIOSHA continues to partner with state agencies, local health departments and other entities to equip employers and their staff with proper guidance and tools to keep Michigan workplaces safe. A set of online resources at Michigan.gov/COVIDWorkplaceSafety provides posters for employees and customers, factsheets, educational videos, a sample COVID-19 preparedness and response plan, best practices that employees need to follow and a reopening checklist to help businesses put safeguards in place.

Prior to these latest inspections, MIOSHA released two State Emphasis Programs (SEP), one to ensure hospital workers are provided the appropriate personal protective equipment and the other to protect employees in the service industry where there in an increased risk of COVID-19 transmission, including restaurants, bars and retail establishments.

The MIOSHA Consultation Education and Training (CET) Division is engaging across the state to raise awareness among employers, employees and safety and health professionals on the best practices for COVID-19 preparedness and response plans. For free statewide assistance, companies can call the CET Division at 517-284-7720 or toll-free at 800-866-4674.

For more information about MIOSHA’s safety and health guidelines to protect Michigan’s workforce during the pandemic, visit Michigan.gov/COVIDWorkplaceSafety. Employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health may contact MIOSHA using the new hotline at 855-SAFE-C19 (855-723-3219).

Information around COVID-19 is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at michigan.gov/coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

MIOSHA Citations Summary

MIOSHA cited the six companies for a serious violation of the general duty clause for the following reasons:

United Shore Financial Services, LLC, based in Pontiac, MI was fined $6,300. An inspection was initiated due to multiple employee complaints and reports from the Oakland County Health Department of COVID-19 outbreaks among employees:

— The employer allowed employees to work in a shared office space without wearing face coverings.

— The employer allowed employees to work within six feet of one another without face coverings.

— The employer allowed newly hired employees to meet in a large group in excess of 120 people without wearing face coverings while seated within six feet of one another.

— Employees are not notified within 24 hours of the employer learning an individual with a confirmed case of COVID-19 visited the office.

UPS distribution facility based in Livonia, MI and was fined $7,000. An inspection was initiated from a complaint.

— The employer did not ensure all sorters/loaders participated in a daily entry health screening protocol.

— The employer allowed delivery drivers and loaders working in the facility to work within six feet of one another when it was feasible to have them work more than six feet apart

— The employer did not require employees to wear face coverings when they did not maintain six feet of separation from other individuals in the workplace.

— The employer did not ensure sufficient cleaning measures of delivery vehicles.

— The employer had not conducted employee training on COVID-19 that covered all the elements of the preparedness and response plan.

— The employer had not adequately implemented their COVID-19 preparedness and response plan, including enforcement of face coverings, social distancing, and health screening.

Speedway, LLC, gas station and convenience store location based in Waterford, MI and was fined $6,300. An inspection was initiated under the MIOSHA State Emphasis Program for service industries.

— The employer allowed employees to inadequately wear face coverings under the nose and mouth or not at all.

— The employer did not monitor or enforce the adequate use of face coverings by employees that could not maintain social distancing.

— The employer did not conduct daily health screenings of employees before starting their shift.

— The employer did not keep a record that training was completed for the firm’s COVID-19 preparedness and response plan at the worksite.

— The employer did not train employees on the recognition of symptoms of COVID-19.

— The firm did not make a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan available to employees at the worksite.

— The employer did not appoint an onsite monitor to enforce the firm’s COVID-19 preparedness and response plan while staff were present at the worksite.

— The employer did not provide face coverings free of charge to employees onsite.

— The employer did not inform customers of the requirement to wear a face covering inside the building.

Coop’s Iron Works, a fitness center based in Saginaw, MI and was fined $2,100. An inspection was initiated after a referral from the Saginaw County Health Department noted several confirmed COVID-19 cases associated with this facility and the facility is operating indoors in violation of the Executive Order.

– The employer had not developed a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan.

— The employer did not provide COVID-19 training to employees that covered workplace infection-control practices, the proper use of personal protective equipment, steps the employee must take to notify the business of any symptoms of COVID-19 or a suspected or confirmed diagnosis.

— The employer did not conduct a daily health screening of employees entering the facility.

— The employer did not require employees to wear face coverings when they could not consistently maintain six feet of separation from one another while in the facility.

— The employer had not posted a sign outside of the facility entrance informing individuals not to enter if they were sick or have recently been sick with symptoms of COVID-19 or a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19.

— The employer did not configure workout stations or implement protocols to enable ten feet of distance between individuals during exercise sessions (or six feet of distance with barriers) to the extent feasible.

— The employer did not maintain accurate records of gym attendees, including date and time of visit, name of attendees and contact information to aid with contact tracing.

— The employer had not closed the steam rooms and saunas.

Dan Freed, a residential contractor based in Eaton Rapids, MI and was fined $6,400. A programmed inspection was initiated at a Grand Ledge, MI jobsite.

— The employer allowed workers within six feet of one another when it was feasible to have them work more than six feet apart.

— The employer did not require workers to wear face coverings when they did not consistently maintain six feet of separation.

— The employer had not developed a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan, which would have included requirements for social distancing and use of face coverings.

— The employer had not conducted employee training on COVID-19 that covered social distancing and the use of face coverings.

— The employer was also in violation of additional workplace safety standards leading to additional fines (included in total).

Hills Roofing, LLC based in Niles, MI was fined $5,300. A regular programmed inspection was initiated at a Niles, MI jobsite.

— The employer allowed workers within six feet of one another when it was feasible to have them work more than six feet apart.

— The employer did not require workers to wear face coverings when they did not consistently maintain six feet of separation.

— The employer had not developed a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan, which would have included requirements for social distancing and use of face coverings.

— The employer had not conducted employee training on COVID-19 that covered social distancing and the use of face coverings.

— The employer was also in violation of additional workplace safety standards leading to additional fines (included in total).

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