MIOSHA eNews - October 2020


COVID Workplace Safety Update

In an effort to help stop the spread of COVID-19, Sean Egan, Michigan COVID-19 Workplace Safety Director, the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and Michigan Saves will hosting a webinar series to educate businesses on HVAC modification and maintenance to slow the risk of airborne transmission.

Mark your calendars for the remaining series of live virtual events to provide you with important information and updates on how having a great air ventilation and filtration system is essential to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Following the presentation, attendees will have the opportunity to ask their questions about HVAC systems, along with general workplace safety.  

Participants are encouraged to join all of the following webinars:

To learn more about COVID-19 Workplace Safety, visit Michigan.gov/COVIDWorkplaceSafety.

MIOSHA Training Institute (MTI) Update

MIOSHA Training Institute (MTI)

As we adapt to changing circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, you can have it your way as a participant in MIOSHA’s Training Institute (MTI). Through Dec. 31, 2020, MIOSHA will be offering several of its MTI training seminars in one of the following four different learning formats to protect the safety and health of our customers and employees:   

  • Traditional Classroom Setting - Limited face-to-face instruction at a host site. All our host sites have COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plans in place.
  • Online – Virtual, self-paced training.
  • Virtual Instructor-Led – Virtual classroom with an in-person instructor.
  • Hybrid/Blended – A combination of virtual classroom and limited face-to-face instruction in a classroom setting.

These various training formats will provide an opportunity for anyone from anywhere in the state to safely participate in MTI’s workplace safety and health training seminars. The format available for each training seminar is also listed on the MTI training calendar webpage.

To learn more about MTI and what it can do for you, contact the Consultation Education and Training (CET) Division at 517-284-7720 or visit the MTI webpage

MTI Course Picture

"Parts 35, 90, and 490 - Confined Space in Construction and Permit-Required Confined Spaces in General Industry" in-person course that was held at Lansing Community College (LCC) on Sept. 9, 2020.

Work Zone Safety

Did you know that most work zone crashes are caused by inattentive motorists? It only takes a split second of distraction to dramatically change lives forever.

Michigan's goal of Toward Zero Deaths on our roads includes our work zones. Sadly, the statistics tell us we are not at zero yet. However, you can be a part of the solution by giving work zones your undivided attention.

Safe Driving in Work Zone Tips 

  • Expect the unexpected.  Normal speed limits may be reduced, traffic lanes may change, and workers, vehicles, or equipment may enter your lane without warning.  
  • Minimize distractions.  Dedicate your full attention to the road.  Avoid using cellphones or engaging in other distracting behaviors while driving in a work zone.
  • Obey road crews and signs.  Crews know what is best for moving traffic safely in the work zone.  Signs are posted in advance of work zones to give you time to follow their instructions to merge, slow down or stop.
  • Don’t speed or tailgate.  In Michigan, fines are double for speeding in a work zone, so slow down.  Keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you.  
  • Pay attention to other drivers. Vehicles may slow, stop, or change lanes unexpectedly in a work zone.  Watch for brake lights and be prepared to react to traffic around you. 
  • Be patient and stay calm.  Work zones are not there to inconvenience you.  They are necessary to improve our roads and make your future drive better.

For more information and resources on work zone safety, visit the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Work Zone Safety Website.

Discrimination Hearing Ruling – MOAHR Docket No. 20-009893

On September 15, 2020, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued the first ruling concerning an employee alleging retaliation for raising COVID-19 concerns in alleged violation of the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act (“the Act”). Under Section 65(1) of the Act, an employer is prohibited from discharging or discriminating against an employee for exercising a right afforded by the Act. Generally, rights afforded by the Act include:

  • filing a complaint with MIOSHA;
  • reporting a work-related accident, injury, or illness to MIOSHA or the employer;
  • participating in a MIOSHA inspection or proceeding arising from an inspection;
  • raising a safety or health concern to the employer; and,
  • refusing to perform an unsafe act which would result in imminent death or serious physical harm.

The employee complainant (“complainant”) filed a discrimination complaint with MIOSHA’s Employee Discrimination Section alleging he was given a less favorable work assignment after he raised concerns with his employer about a lack of COVID-19 precautions being taken by the employer’s client. The MIOSHA investigation determined that the complainant was a truck driver who picked up and delivered product for the employer’s clients. To perform his duties, the complainant was required to report to the client’s facility, sign-in on a clipboard and kiosk, and wait in a room with other delivery drivers until the product was loaded and the delivery paperwork was provided to him. In early March, the complainant verbally raised concerns with his employer over the possible risk of spread of COVID-19 infection due to the client’s waiting room placing him in close proximity to other drivers and the absence of disinfecting agents for commonly touched surfaces used by the drivers. A short time after raising these concerns, the employer informed the complainant he was being removed from delivering for the client and reassigned to a different delivery account.

The employer contended it had a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for the complainant’s reassignment. The employer provided MIOSHA with communications between it and their client which confirmed the client had refused to permit the complainant to return to their facility due to an alleged altercation between the complainant and one of the client’s employees. The MIOSHA investigation determined that after the complainant raised COVID-19 concerns to his employer, the complainant had a verbal disagreement with the client’s employee over whether the complainant had cut in front of other delivery drivers in the delivery assignment process.  MIOSHA determined that there had also been a prior disagreement between the complainant and the client’s employee.

At the conclusion of the investigation, MIOSHA determined that while the employee’s act of raising COVID-19 concerns was protected from discrimination, the raising of COVID-19 concerns could not be used as a shield to prohibit the employer from addressing improper conduct by the complainant. MIOSHA therefore issued a determination that there was insufficient evidence to support that there was a violation of the Act, i.e., there was insufficient evidence that complainant’s reassignment was solely due to his raising COVID-19 concerns. The complainant appealed MIOSHA’s determination, resulting in an administrative hearing being held.

During the hearing, the complainant disputed the client’s accusation that he had cut in front of other delivery drivers on the day of his verbal disagreement with the client’s employee. The complainant argued that the client’s employee made the false claim to get the complainant removed from the client’s account. The employer argued that at the time of the employee’s raising of concerns related to COVID-19, Governor Whitmer had not yet declared a state of emergency or issued executive orders requiring social distancing or other measures; therefore, the complainant’s raising of  COVID-19 concerns was not a legitimate safety concern that should be afforded protection under the Act. The employer also argued that it did not change complainant’s assignment because he raised COVID-19 concerns. The employer contended that while it tried to change the client’s mind about removing the complainant from the account, it had a legitimate business need to honor the client’s request.

Following the hearing, the ALJ issued a written decision upholding MIOSHA’s original determination that there was insufficient evidence of a violation of the Act. However, the judge, like MIOSHA, rejected the employer’s argument that the complainant’s raising of concerns about social distancing and commonly touched surfaces prior to the issuance of the COVID-19 Executive Orders was not protected activity. The judge ruled complainant’s action of raising of COVID-19 concerns was indeed protected activity under the Act:

The Petitioner-Employee reported valid and legitimate safety concerns…
Although…slightly ahead of many others in the country in recognizing the
serious nature of the virus, his concerns were nonetheless appropriate and
valid when he made them in March 2020.

Decisions of the ALJ in contested employee discrimination appeals are considered a final agency order and are subject to appeal in the circuit court.

Michigan Worker Deaths of 2020

To date, there have been 22 work-related fatalities reported to MIOSHA in 2020. The information below shares preliminary details about the most recent fatalities reported to MIOSHA which are believed to be covered by the MIOSH Act. The description reflects information provided to MIOSHA at the initial report of the incident and is not the result of the official MIOSHA investigation. To report fatalities/catastrophes, call MIOSHA at 800-858-0397.

Preliminary summaries of the most recent incidents:
On May 26, a 54-year-old corrections program coordinator was sent home from work when she developed SARS-CoV-2 symptoms. The employer was informed of her passing on June 5, 2020.

On May 1, a 55-year-old correctional officer contacted his employer stating he was not feeling well and was experiencing SARS-CoV-2 symptoms. On May 4, the correctional officer was tested for COVID-19 and on May 6, he was notified his test results were positive. The employee was hospitalized and on July 3, the employer reported to MIOSHA that the correctional officer had died.

On July 7, at approximately 7:30 a.m., a 21-year-old farm worker began working in a farm field staking posts for eggplant growth. Around 3:15 p.m., the farm worker complained of being hot and was transported by co-workers to his residence and given water. Around 3:40 p.m., the owner stopped by to check on the farm worker and called emergency services who transported him to the hospital. On July 8, the owner was notified that the farm worker had died.

On Sept. 3, at approximately 2:35 p.m., a 49-year-old laborer was walking between a dump truck and a swamp mat. The excavator turned on its axis and the counterweight made contact with the top mat pushing it towards the laborer that was walking by. He was struck in the chest.

On Sept. 21, at approximately 2:55 p.m., a 26-year-old laborer was sent to repair a manhole and replace the cover when he was struck by a passing vehicle.

There were 37 MIOSHA-covered deaths in 2019. 2009 saw the lowest number with 24. Every life is precious. Our mutual goal must be that every employee goes home at the end of every shift unharmed.

If you need help or assistance in ensuring your workplace is safe, MIOSHA is here to help. The CET Division provides workplace safety and health training and consultations to employers and employees throughout Michigan, free of charge. Contact CET today at 800-866-4674 or request CET services online.

Agency Instructions Issued

October 1, 2020 - Amputations - National Emphasis Program (NEP)

September 3, 2020 - Multi-Employer Work Sites

August 28, 2020 - Field Sanitation Standard Enforcement Procedures

Press releases

October 2, 2020 - State Cites Businesses, for COVID-19 Workplace Safety Violations

September 17, 2020 - State cites 19 businesses, totaling $51,400 in penalties for COVID-19 workplace safety violations

September 14, 2020 - Sodecia Automotive Detroit Corp in Roseville cited for MIOSHA violations totaling $108,200 in proposed penalties


Variances from MIOSHA standards must be made available to the public in accordance with Part 12, Variances (R408.22201 to 408.22251). MIOSHA variances are published online at michigan.gov/mioshavariances.

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