MIOSHA to bring workplace rules in line with new mask guidance

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Lansing — State regulators plan to update COVID-19 workplace regulations to bring them in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that ditches mask requirements for fully vaccinated people. 

The Monday announcement by COVID-19 Workplace Safety Director Sean Egan came nearly three days after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's state health department adjusted the state's mask mandate to exempt people who have been fully vaccinated. 

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been working to bring its emergency and proposed permanent rules in line with the order.

Until its rules are updated, "MIOSHA will consider compliance with the MDHHS order as good faith to comply when responding to employee complaints or conducting investigations related to COVID-19," Egan said in a statement. 

Businesses and chambers of commerce across the state have been pushing back on the agency, criticizing proposed COVID-19 permanent workplace rules as unnecessary. 

The permanent rules, which first much go through a public hearing process, could be approved as soon as October, when the current emergency rules expire. 

Michigan law allows agencies to issue two six-month periods of emergency rules before they are forced to develop permanent rules or drop them altogether. 

Fearing the possibility that COVID could still be present in October, MIOSHA introduced draft permanent rules in April. But the agency has maintained the rules could be adjusted based on the trajectory of the pandemic and vaccinations.

Michigan Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rich Studley criticized MIOSHA last week for slow-walking the development of new rules in line with the new mask mandate. 

"More dissembling from Labor Dept bureaucrats hell-bent to maintain & expand their regulatory reach by extending temporary rules and creating new permanent rules," Studley said Friday on social media. "So they can continue micromanaging the daily operation of every Michigan business. Stop the MIOSHA power grab."