The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) filed Draft Rule with the Michigan Secretary of State on Tuesday. The rules would extend many of MIOSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Rules on a permanent basis.
In a statement to the press, the Chamber and other business groups voiced concern over how the permanent rules could come to conflict with Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations and current science and will adversely impact jobs and hurt the economy. Furthermore, the groups questioned whether permanent rules are needed given the COVID-19 emergency will end at some point, especially as vaccines become more readily available and we move towards herd immunity.
The permanent rules were filed as the MIOSHA General Industry and Construction Safety and Health Standard Advisory Committee for Part 505, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (“Advisory Committee”) concluded its meetings and discussion on converting the MIOSHA COVID-19 Emergency Rules into permanent rules. It is estimated the rulemaking process will take 6 to twelve months, at which time the rule will take effect (i.e., any time between October 2021 and April 2022).
The Advisory Committee, which the Chamber participated in, was charged with advising MIOSHA on “permanent” COVID-19 workplace safety rules that would cover both general industry and construction employers and be promulgated through the regular rulemaking process.
From the beginning, the Chamber questioned whether MIOSHA needs a permanent rule set and/or whether permanent rules should pattern the Emergency Rules. However, with a committee was made up of four voting union representatives and four voting representatives of management, nearly all of our proposed changes were rejected because of a lack of “consensus.” We are disappointed that MIOSHA didn’t accept our suggestions to follow the science and/or defer to CDC guidelines under the permanent rule. We are also disappointed that the permanent rules do not include a concrete sunset provision.
It is important to note that the Committee that discussed the permanent rules is separate, but related, to the on-going “Return-to-Office Workgroup” recently established by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. That workgroup is charged with informing Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) orders and MIOSHA rules for employers to use in planning their own phased reopening. That workgroup is still meeting and is expected to make its recommendations in the coming weeks. It remains unclear how their recommendations could impact the permanent rules and rule promulgation process.
Please contact Wendy Block with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.