HAVLICEK: Be prepared for compliance inspections

The state of Michigan’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently announced the launch of a new enforcement effort seeking to enhance compliance at business establishments around the state.

If you own or operate a public-facing business, this is something you’ll want to be aware of.

The effort is called the State Emphasis Program and focuses on businesses such as bars, restaurants, gas stations, convenience stores, grocery stores, and other retail establishments.

It works like this:

MIOSHA will conduct inspections, either by referral or randomly, at businesses in the aforementioned categories. During these inspections, MIOSHA staff will evaluate the employer’s compliance with existing MIOSHA standards, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders, and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as they pertain to protecting workers.

In addition to an evaluation, the staff will work to educate employees on best practices to ensure all workplaces remain safe. While inspections primarily seek to help employers comply with safety standards, citations and penalties up to $7,000 may be issued if the inspections determine major deficiencies in the employer’s COVID-19 preparedness and response plans.

That is a steep penalty for an already struggling business, and we at the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber want to ensure you have everything you need to be in compliance.

A few of the steps and actions the state wants you to take include:

• Conducting daily health screenings of employees and contractors,

• Requiring employees and customers to wear face coverings properly,

• Considering changes to indoor ventilation to reduce transmission risk,

• Implementing enhanced cleaning protocols when employees or the public become sick,

• Posting required signs and notifying customers of their obligation to wear face coverings, if medically tolerated, and not entering if they feel sick,

• Maintaining compliance with social distancing and capacity limits of the establishment, and

• Ensuring that they have and use a preparedness and response plan.

Additional industry-specific guidance and resources can be found at Michigan.gov/covidworkplacesafety. These guidelines are constantly evolving, so please take a moment to refresh yourself on the practices applicable to your industry.

If you still need a preparedness and response plan, we have customizable templates on our chamber’s website: smrchamber.com/covid-19-resources/p-and-r-plan. These are templates that should be tailored to your particular risk level, implemented and maintained.

If you need additional personal protection equipment, buy local! Berrien County businesses have stepped up to either produce or procure every type of PPE you need to keep your employees and customers safe. You can find a local list of resources at berrienreopens.org/ppe-resources. If something you need isn’t listed, contact us, and we will track it down for you.

As always, our chamber is standing by to help businesses navigate these uncertain waters. If you need help or have questions, do not hesitate to call us at (269) 932-4042.

Together, we can stay safe, stay in compliance, and stay open.

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