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MIOSHA Looking to Make COVID Workplace Restrictions Permanent

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Throughout the pandemic, Michiganders have seen restrictions come and go and others get extended.

Right now, there is a fight in Lansing to prevent workplace restrictions from becoming permanent.

There are two issues the business community has with the state when it comes to the workplace COVID-19 safety rules. First the six-month extension that was done without much input from the business community two weeks ago. The extension that forces people to work from home, if they can do so. Then, a push to make those rules permanent, even if the COVID pandemic fades by October.

“With this move towards herd immunity, there are serious questions about how long we will need all of these restrictions in place,” said Wendy Block, Vice President of Business Advocacy and Member Engagement with the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

When the MIOSHA workplace safety rules were extended two weeks ago, it was expected by the business community but they hoped for them to be relaxed.

“So far there’s been a reluctance on that piece,” said Block.

The restrictions stretch into October, workers that can work from home should.

After that, the state cannot extend them again, under emergency designations at least. They must become permanent.

MIOSHA director Bart Pickelman telling 9&10 News in a statement, “The agency must take steps to be sure it can continue to keep everyone safe if the pandemic continues into the fall and the emergency rules expire.”

“These are decisions that are made in the workplace between employers and employees,” said Block.

The permanent rules can be rescinded at any time but the business community is leery. They say this response isn’t adaptive enough in the ever-changing pandemic.

“Where are we going to be in six to 12 months by the time this will take effect?” asked Block. “They’re making decisions today that will have staying power through the time that they actually take effect.”