Dowagiac business cited for COVID-19 safety violations

Published 9:13 am Saturday, January 23, 2021

DOWAGIAC — A Dowagiac business has been fined for not enforcing COVID-19 workplace safety precautions.

Friday, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspected and issued COVID-19 emergency rule or general duty citations to 10 different workplaces with violations for failing to protect workers and take safety precautions.

Among those cited was Michigan Die Casting in Dowagiac. The business was cited for violations including a lack of a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan, failure to train employees on the workplace controls for COVID-19, failure to implement a self-screening protocol for COVID-19, a lack of increased cleaning or disinfecting of the facility, not providing face coverings and not enforcing the use of face coverings. Total penalties are $16,800. The inspection was initiated from an employee complaint.

Under MIOSHA’s Emergency Rules, businesses that resume in-person work must, among other things, have a written COVID-19 preparedness and response plan and provide thorough training to their employees that covers, at a minimum, workplace infection-control practices, the proper use of personal protection equipment, and steps workers must take to notify the business or operation of any symptoms of COVID-19 or a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19. An emergency rule citation carries a fine of up to $7,000.

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.

On-site inspections conducted by MIOSHA’s general industry and construction industry enforcement divisions determined ten employers allegedly committed violations by failing to implement necessary precautions to protect employees from contracting COVID-19. Deficiencies included a lack of health screenings, face coverings, employee training, and overall preparedness plans.

The cited employers have 15 working days from receipt of the MIOSHA citations to contest the violations and penalties. Employers must provide proof to MIOSHA that abatement has been completed.

A cited employer may choose to enter into a Penalty Reduction Agreement with MIOSHA and agree to abate noted hazards by the abatement date provided within the citation and will receive a 50% reduction in penalties. By entering into the agreement, an employer must also agree to not seek an appeal.