Michigan state employees will visit businesses one-on-one to help them reopen safely under a swath of COVID-19 safety guidelines.
The program, launched by the Department of Labor and Economic and the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA), features ambassadors that will visit businesses to help them navigate through safety guidelines and regulations. Unlike their MIOSHA counterparts, these ambassadors will not issue penalties or citations.
“Michigan businesses and workers need support during these challenging times,” said Sean Egan, the Michigan COVID-19 workplace director, in a statement. “Education is essential with new guidance and directives regularly changing as we continue to battle with COVID-19. Ambassadors will work with businesses to correct any issues. We want to help employers understand and apply directives so they can comply, stay open and stay safe.”
Safety violation complaints skyrocketed earlier this year, jumping from 200 to 240 complaints per month to more than 200 per week, according to reporting by MLive.
Program ambassadors will focus on establishments that have a higher risk of community transmission, such as bars, restaurants, retail, gas stations, convenience stores, bowling alleys and gyms. While many of these businesses have already been reopened for a while, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced late last week that gyms would be allowed to reopen starting Wednesday, with certain safety precautions.
“Collaboration is key in the effort to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said MIOSHA Director Bart Pickelman in a statement. “Throughout the pandemic, we’ve heard from many employers and employees wanting to clarify regulations and determine how they apply to their specific workplace. This ambassador effort will bring that education and support directly to businesses across the state.”
Michigan currently has more than 107,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 6,539 deaths, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services.
“Business owners face a fluid set of complex issues regarding COVID-19 that require support to navigate,” said Brian Calley, president of Small Business Association of Michigan, in a statement. “As guidance from the state continues to evolve, with different rules governing various regions and industries, business owners need to know exactly what they mean and how to apply them. Ongoing education is necessary to keep the economy moving.”
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter at The Michigan Star and Star News Digital Media. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]