By: Ben Tirrell, Michigan Farm Bureau Associate Legislative Counsel
Confused by the current COVID-19 rules? You’re not alone.
Businesses and residents across the state are scrambling to understand what is permitted under the Michigan Department of Health and Humans Services (MDHHS) decision to partially adopt new CDC guidance, removing criteria for wearing masks for fully vaccinated individuals. The new MDHHS order does not adopt revised CDC guidance on “social distancing.”
However, businesses and employers still fall under Michigan Occupational Health and Safety Agency (MIOSHA) emergency rules which requires most workers and patrons to continuewearing masks. The contradiction is so evident that MIOSHA has even posted on its website that the agency is “in the process of reviewing both the emergency rules and draft permanent rules.”
The statement goes on to say that “MIOSHA will soon post updated workplace rules reflecting the CDC's recent guidance on face masks for fully vaccinated people.”
Even amid the confusion, MIOSHA also published proposed permanent workplace rules related to COVID-19 the same day the mask changes took effect under the DHHS revised order. Michigan would become just the second state in the entire nation to adopt permanent standards to control workplace spread of COVID-19. The proposed Michigan rules are very similar to current emergency rules in effect until Oct. 14.
These measures detail numerous requirements for workplace safety, including requirements for social distancing and mask wearing. These proposed final rules lack a definite sunset coinciding with the end of the pandemic, and do not mention vaccines. This has left many business leaders asking why these rules are needed at all. As the pandemic winds down and vaccination appears to be effective in controlling COVID-19, it is hard to understand the logic in creating permanent COVID-19 rules for workplaces.
Fortunately, the proposed rules are open to both public and legislative review. The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules may choose to review and make recommendations to MIOSHA. In addition, a virtual public meeting will be held on May 26 and written comments will be accepted until 5 p.m. that day. Those wishing to make comments may participate in the online meeting or may submit written comments via email to [email protected] or sent to the following address:
Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity
MIOSHA, Technical Services Division, Standards and FOIA Section
530 West Allegan Street - P.O. Box 30643 - Lansing MI 48909-8143
Many voices, including Michigan Farm Bureau, are calling on MIOSHA to withdraw the rules altogether. It is important for MIOSHA to hear what the public thinks and understand how this is impacting our business owners, their employees and families. A great deal has changed since the rules were conceived, and it’s time for the agency to consider what the people of this state want and withdraw the rules altogether.