Niles company fined for COVID-19 workplace safety violations

NILES — A Niles roofing business is among six Michigan companies fined for violating workplace safety rules put in place in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Friday, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced the first round of COVID-19 “general duty” citations following a series of inspections. MIOSHA cited six different businesses with serious violations for failing to uphold safe and healthy practices, potentially putting workers in harm’s way.

“We’re focused on education first so employers know what they must do to safely reopen. But a failure to follow guidelines puts everyone at risk. While these citations are necessary to prevent potential serious illness, they are not a reflection of the tremendous cooperation we have seen from employers and their workers across the state,” said Michigan COVID-19 Workplace Safety Director Sean Egan. “A vast majority of businesses are doing their part to keep our economy open by following the proper guidance.”

The MIOSHA “general duty” clause requires an employer to provide a workplace that is free from recognized hazards that are causing, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm to the employee. A general duty clause citation carries a fine of up to $7,000.

The cited companies will have 15 working days from receipt of the MIOSHA citations to contest the violations and penalties. The citations include suggestions to fix the hazards to protect employees. Employers must provide proof to MIOSHA that abatement has been completed. The first group of MIOSHA COVID-19 general duty citations included the following companies:

  • United Shore Financial Services, LLC, based in Pontiac
  • UPS distribution facility based in Livonia
  • Speedway, LLC, gas station and convenience store location based in Waterford
  • Coop’s Iron Works, a fitness center based in Saginaw
  • Dan Freed, a residential contractor based in Eaton Rapids
  • Hills Roofing, LLC based in Niles

“The MIOSHA investigations determined that these six employers were clearly not taking the appropriate steps to protect employees and their communities from the spread of COVID-19,” said MIOSHA Director Bart Pickelman. “These citations are meant to reiterate the employer’s duty. Precautions are necessary to establish and maintain a work environment where everyone can return home safe and healthy.”

Hills Roofing LLC was fined $5,300 following a regular programmed inspection at the Niles jobsite. According to a report from MIOSHA, inspectors found the following COVID-19 workplace safety violations:

  • The employer allowed workers within 6 feet of one another when it was feasible to have them work more than 6 feet apart.
  • The employer did not require workers to wear face coverings when they did not consistently maintain 6 feet of separation.
  • The employer had not developed a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan, which would have included requirements for social distancing and use of face coverings.
  • The employer had not conducted employee training on COVID-19 that covered social distancing and the use of face coverings.
  • The employer was also in violation of additional workplace safety standards leading to additional fines (included in total).

A representative from Hills Roofing LLC could not be reached as of publication.

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