LANSING, Mich. —State Sen. Jon Bumstead and Rep. Luke Meerman, Senate and House chairmen of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, on Monday expressed deep concerns in reaction to the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s request to make emergency pandemic workplace rules permanent.
“When MIOSHA put their COVID-19 emergency workplace safety rules in place last October, which were initially issued as executive orders from the governor last April, they said these rules were to help stop the spread of the virus and keep workers safe,” said Bumstead, R-Newaygo. “I am deeply concerned about their efforts in making these rules permanent, as permanent rules are not appropriate for temporary events. I am looking forward to working directly with the department, our JCAR members, and businesses that will be directly affected as we review the specifics of these new rules and their impact on Michigan.”
The department said in its official filing with the state’s Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules that these regulations are needed because “Michigan’s experience with COVID-19 demonstrates that the disease can spread rapidly without protective measures in place.” Under the proposal, employers would still have to adhere to many directives like requiring that their employees wear masks at all times, that social distancing be enforced and that employers create a policy prohibiting in-person work to the extent that work can feasibly be completed remotely, among others. As part of the proposed rules, MIOSHA could keep these directives in force after emergency orders have been rescinded.
“These proposed rules are problematic for a number of reasons, but at the end of the day, this is just another attempt from the governor to bypass the Legislature and create one-size-fits-all policies that are unnecessary,” said Meerman, R-Coopersville. “These rules were put in place as an emergency response, and forcing businesses to follow these practices permanently is a complete overreach and unacceptable.”
As part of the rule-making process, any department rule changes must be reviewed by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules — a statutorily created, bipartisan legislative committee responsible for legislative oversight of administrative rules proposed or adopted by state agencies.