As Michigan businesses reopen, Gov. Whitmer says they must have a COVID-19 response plan – Detroit Free Press


As businesses in Michigan begin to reopen, they will be required to follow strict safety guidelines to protect their workers and customers from the novel coronavirus, according to an executive order signed Monday by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The 12-page executive order requires employers to develop a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan that can be readily provided to employees, labor unions and customers.

The governor’s order comes as she allows retailers, restaurants and offices to reopen across much of northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula starting Friday.

Employers that are reopening must develop their preparedness plans by June 1, or within two weeks of resuming in-person activities, whichever is later.

The governor’s workplace safety order also requires employers to provide training on workplace infection-control practices and the proper use of personal protective equipment.

Employers must also spell out how employees who have COVID-19 symptoms or a COVID-19 diagnosis should alert their company. And employers also must spell out how workers can report unsafe working conditions.

The executive order provides detailed instructions for employers in construction, manufacturing, retail, research labs, offices and restaurants.

As companies reopen, they must designate one or more work site supervisors to monitor COVID-19 control strategies, and this person must be present at all times that workers are on-site.

The rules also require employers to provide nonmedical face masks to their workers; keep employees 6 feet apart, and when that’s not possible, require workers to wear masks; increase cleaning and disinfecting; and make cleaning supplies available to workers.

Also on Monday, the governor signed an executive directive that allows the director of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity to appoint a director of COVID-19 workplace safety to coordinate state efforts to monitor and enforce workplace safeguards.

And state agencies that enforce workplace safety regulations will be required to publicly post citations against employers that fail to follow the rules outlined in Whitmer’s workplace safety order. 

The governor’s order comes as federal and state occupational safety agencies have launched investigations into workplace fatalities at four hospitals in Michigan and a nursing home whose employees died of complications from the coronavirus.

Those investigations were opened earlier this month by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration, also known as MIOSHA, according to records kept by OSHA and reviewed by the Free Press.

More: Coronavirus deaths of hospital workers now under scrutiny by Michigan, federal agencies

More: Coronavirus takes heavy toll on health care workers in Michigan, causing dozen-plus deaths

“The vast majority of Michigan businesses are doing their part to slow the spread of COVID-19, but we must do more to ensure Michiganders are safe at work,” Whitmer said in a statement.

“This executive order, and the director of COVID-19 workplace safety, will help ensure employers take the needed measures to protect workers and customers from the spread of COVID-19,” she said.

“We’re grateful to Gov. Whitmer for taking action today to save lives and hold down the spread of this awful virus,” Ron Bieber, president of the Michigan AFL-CIO, said in a news release from the governor’s office.

“It’s not right to force people back to work without making sure they’re kept safe. Anyone returning to work should know they’ll be safe in their workplace, and our state should be acting to hold bad actors accountable,” Bieber said.

Contact Jennifer Dixon: 313-223-4410 or

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