COVID-19 Update: Resuming Operations

As has been well-covered in the media, Governor Whitmer on Monday afternoon authorized a phased reopening of the State using a regional approach set forth in Executive Order 2020-92. Starting this weekend, “Up North” (the Upper Peninsula and northern lower peninsula) may reopen retail businesses, restaurants and bars (with limited seating), and office work that cannot be done remotely.  The Governor also issued expanded safety rules for employers in Executive Order 2020-91.

Key features of the Order that apply to all employers include (1) having a written safety plan in place, (2) implementing employee safety training, and (3) record-keeping. Enforcement has also been ramped up as MIOSHA has full authority to enforce the safety rules.

Many of the safety rules repeat what I outlined in this prior COVID-19 Update (but the rules have been updated to cover all businesses and offer some new specific requirements).  All employers with in-person work must follow the rules in the next section (and then there are specific additional rules by industry which you must follow).

All Employers With In-Person Work

The following must be completed by all organizations permitted to have employees leave home for work:

Develop a Plan.  Develop a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan by June 1, 2020 or within two weeks of restarting in-person work (whichever is later).  The plan must be readily available to employees, unions, and customers (via website, network, or hard copy).   The Plan should follow the OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19.

Designated Supervisor.  Designate a worksite supervisor(s) who is on-site at all times when employees are present to be responsible for the Plan.

Training.  Train employees on at least the following:

  • Workplace infection-control practices;
  • Proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE);
  • Steps to take to notify the business of any symptoms or a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19;
  • How to report unsafe working conditions;

Screening.  Conduct a daily entry self-screening for all employees/contractors entering the workplace. At a minimum, the employer must have a questionnaire covering symptoms and suspected or confirmed exposure to COVID-19.

Social Distancing. Keep everyone at least six feet apart and use markings, signs, and physical barriers, as appropriate.

Face Coverings. Provide non-medical grade face coverings to employees. Require face coverings when employees cannot consistently maintain six feet of separation in the workplace. Consider face shields when employees cannot consistently maintain three feet of distancing.

Cleaning. Clean and disinfect to limit exposure to COVID-19, especially on high-touch surfaces (e.g., door handles), parts, products, and shared equipment.

Cleaning if Infection. Adopt protocols to clean and disinfect the facility if there is a positive case in the workplace.

Cleaning Supplies. Make cleaning supplies available to employees upon entry and at the worksite and provide time for employees to wash hands/sanitize often.

Positive Case Reporting. Notify within 24 hours if there is a positive case –

  • The local public health department, and
  • Any co-workers/contractors/suppliers who may have come into contact with the person.

No Retaliation.  Prohibit discharging, disciplining, or retaliating against employees who stay home or who leave work due to infection risk.

Response Plan. Establish a response plan for dealing with a confirmed infection at work, including protocols for sending employees home and for temporary closures for deep cleaning.

Travel. Restrict business-related travel to essential travel only.

PPE. Encourage employees to use personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer on public transportation.

Remote Work. Promote remote work to the fullest extent possible.

Additional Measures. Adopt additional infection-control measures that are reasonable due to work performed and the rate of infection in the community.

Outside Work

Businesses or operations that occur mostly outside must also:

Prohibit gatherings. Prohibit gatherings of any size where a six-foot distance cannot be maintained.

Limit Interaction. Limit in-person interaction with clients and patrons to the maximum extent possible, and prohibit any such interaction in which people cannot maintain six feet of distance from one another.

PPE. Provide personal protective equipment such as gloves, goggles, face shields, and face coverings as appropriate.

Limit Sharing of Tools.  Limit the sharing of tools and equipment and ensure frequent cleaning/disinfection of tools, equipment, and surfaces.

Construction

Construction operations must also:

Screenings. Conduct a daily entry screening protocol for all individuals entering a worksite, including a questionnaire covering symptoms and suspected or confirmed exposure to COVID-19 with, if possible, temperature screening.

Entry Point. Create dedicated entry point(s) at every worksite, if possible, for daily screening or issue stickers (or other indicators) to workers to show that they received a screening that day before entrance.

Instructions on PPE. Provide instructions for the distribution of personal protective equipment and designate locations for soiled masks.

Gloves. Encourage or require the use of work gloves, as appropriate.

Choke Points. Identify choke points and high-risk areas where workers must stand near one another and control access (including through physical barriers) to maintain social distancing.

Handwashing. Ensure sufficient hand-washing or hand-sanitizing stations are easily accessible at the worksite.

Notice of Exposure. Notify contractors/owners of any confirmed COVID-19 cases among workers at the worksite.

Restrict Site Movement. Restrict unnecessary movement between project sites.

Minimize Contact.  Create protocols for minimizing personal contact upon delivery of materials to the worksite.

Manufacturing

Manufacturing facilities must also:

Screening. Create and conduct a daily entry screening protocol for all individuals entering the facility (including a questionnaire covering symptoms and suspected or confirmed exposure to people with possible COVID-19 and temperature screening as soon as no-touch thermometers can be obtained).

Entry Point. Create a dedicated entry point(s) at every facility for daily screening and ensure barriers are in place to prevent bypassing of same.

Suspend Non-Essential Visits. Suspend all non-essential in-person visits, including tours.

Training. Train workers about:

  • Routes by which the virus causing COVID-19 is transmitted;
  • Distance that the virus can travel in the air, as well as the time it remains viable in the air and on environmental surfaces; and
  • The use of PPE, including the proper steps for putting it on and taking it off.

Reduce Congestion.  Reduce congestion in common spaces wherever practicable (ie, close buffets within cafeterias and kitchens, require individuals sit at least six feet from one another, place markings on the floor to allow social distancing while standing in line, offer boxed food via delivery or pick-up points, and reduce cash payments).

Rotational Shifts. Implement rotational shift schedules where possible (e.g., increasing the number of shifts, alternating days or weeks).

Stagger Start and Meal Times. Stagger start times and meal times where possible.

Barriers. Install temporary physical barriers, where practicable, between work stations and cafeteria tables.

Minimize Personal Contact. Create protocols for minimizing personal contact upon delivery of materials to the facility.

Limit Sharing.  Adopt protocols to limit the sharing of tools and equipment to the maximum extent possible.

Handwashing. Ensure there are sufficient hand-washing or hand-sanitizing stations at the worksite to enable easy access by workers, and discontinue use of hand dryers.

Notice of Exposure. Notify plant leaders and potentially exposed individuals upon identification of a positive case of COVID-19 in the facility, and maintain a central log for symptomatic workers or workers who received a positive test for COVID-19.

Send Workers Home. Send potentially exposed individuals home upon identification of a positive case of COVID-19 in the facility.

Self-Reporting. Require workers to self-report to plant leaders as soon as possible after developing symptoms of COVID-19.

Shut Down and Clean. Shut areas of the manufacturing facility for cleaning and disinfection if a worker goes home because he or she is displaying symptoms of COVID-19.

Retail Stores

Retail operations performing in-store sales must:

Communications.  Have communications materials for customers (signs/pamphlets) to inform of practices and precautions to prevent infection.

Lines. Establish lines to regulate entry with markings for patrons to stand at least six feet apart from one another. Stores should also explore alternatives, including allowing customers to wait in their cars for a text message or phone call.

Restrictions on Numbers.

Less than 50,000 square feet of customer floor space: Limit the number of people in the store (including employees) to 25% of the total occupancy limits established by the fire marshal.

More than 50,000 square feet:

  • Limit the number of customers in the store at one time (excluding employees) to 4 people per 1,000 square feet of customer floor space, and
  • Create at least 2 hours per week of dedicated shopping time for vulnerable populations (over 60, pregnant women, and chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease).

Signage about Masks and Illness.  Post signs at the entrance informing customers of the legal obligation to wear a face covering and instructing customers not to enter if they are or have been recently sick.

Space Setup. Design space that encourages employees and customers to maintain 6-foot distancing.

Physical Barriers. Install barriers at checkout and service points that require interaction (such as plexiglass or tables as appropriate).

Enhanced Cleaning/Sanitizing.  Clean/sanitize high touch areas (such as restrooms, credit card machines, keypads, carts).

Training. Train employees on cleaning procedures (including cashiers cleaning between customers) and managing symptomatic customers upon story entry.

Notice of Exposure. Notify employees if employer learns that a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19 has visited the store.

Offices

Office operations must:

Entry Point.  Dedicate an entry point to reduce congestion at main entrance.

Visual Indicators for Spacing.  Provide visuals to indicate proper spacing outside the building in case of congestion.

Reduce Entry Congestion.  Take steps to reduce congestion and ensure effective screening (such as staggered start times and rotational scheduling).

Face Coverings. Require face coverings in shared spaces, including in-person meetings, restrooms, and hallways.

Water Fountains. Turn off water fountains.

No Social Gatherings. Prohibit gatherings and meetings that do not allow for social distancing or create unnecessary movement in the office.

Disinfectant. Provide disinfecting supplies and require that employees wipe down work stations two times per day.

Signage. Post signs about the importance of personal hygiene.

Disinfect Surfaces.  Disinfect high touch surfaces (such as whiteboard markers, restrooms, handles) and minimize shared items (such as pens, whiteboards, remotes).

Cleaning if Symptoms. Create and communicate cleaning protocols when employees are sent home with symptoms.

Notice of Exposure. Notify employees if an employer learns that someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 has visited the office.

Visitors. Suspend non-essential visitors.

Travel.  Restrict non-essential travel, including in-person conferences.

Restaurants & Bars

Restaurants and bars must:

Capacity. Limit capacity to 50% of normal seating.

Six-Feet Apart.  Require six feet of separation between parties or groups at different tables or bar tops.

Communication. Create communications for customers (e.g., signs, pamphlets) to inform them of changes to restaurant or bar practices and precautions that are being taken.

Close Waiting Area.  Ask customers to wait in cars for a call when their table is ready.

Close Self-Service.  Close self-serve food or drink areas (such as buffets, salad bars, and drink stations).

Markings.  Provide physical guides, such as tape on floors or sidewalks and signage on walls, to ensure six-foot distancing in lines.

Signage.  Post signs at restaurant or bar entrance informing customers not to enter if they are or have recently been sick and instructing customers to wear face coverings until seated.

Masks and Gloves. Require hosts and servers to wear face coverings in the dining area. Require employees to wear face coverings and gloves in the kitchen area when handling food, consistent with FDA guidelines.

Limit Sharing. Limit shared items for customers (e.g., condiments, menus) and clean high-contact areas after each customer (e.g., tables, chairs, menus, payment tools, condiments).

Training. Train employees on:

  • Appropriate use of PPE with food safety guidelines;
  • Food safety health protocols (e.g., cleaning between customers); and
  • Managing symptomatic customers upon entry or in the restaurant.

Notice of Exposure. Notify employees if the employer learns that an individual with a confirmed case of COVID-19 has visited the premises.

Closing.  Close immediately if an employee shows multiple symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, atypical shortness of breath, atypical cough) and perform a deep clean, consistent with guidance from FDA and CDC. Such cleaning may occur overnight.

Doctor’s Note. Require a doctor’s written release to return to work if an employee has a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Physical Barriers. Install physical barriers (ie, sneeze guards and partitions) at cash registers, bars, host stands, and other areas where maintaining 6-foot distance is difficult.

Limit Employees.  As possible, limit the number of employees in shared spaces to maintain a 6-foot distance.

Record-Keeping & Enforcement

Employers must maintain records of training provided to employees, daily screenings, and confirmed cases reported to the health department and employees.

The rules set forth in EO 2020-91 have the same force as if they were regulations issued by MIOSHA and are fully enforceable by that agency.

Any business violating the rules set forth will have “failed to provide a place of employment free from recognized hazards that are causing, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm to an employee….” under MIOSHA.  (EO 2020-91, Section 11)

There are also specific rules for laboratory operations (EO 2020-90) and long-term care facilities (EO 2020-84).

As always the above is not legal advice.