Six Michigan businesses were fined more than $33,000 after they failed to follow safety protocol designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the state announced on Friday.
The businesses were fined under “general duty” citations through the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA), rather than through any of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders. The “general duty” clause requires employers to provide a workplace free from recognized harms and carries a fine of up to $7,000.
“The MIOSHA investigations determined that these six employers were clearly not taking the appropriate steps to protect employees and their communities from the spread of COVID-19,” MIOSHA Director Bart Pickelman said in a statement. “These citations are meant to reiterate the employer’s duty. Precautions are necessary to establish and maintain a work environment where everyone can return home safe and healthy.”
The state has received more than five times the number of monthly complaints compared to before the pandemic, rising from 200 complaints per month to 1,000, according to The Detroit News.
“We’ve received more complaints since March than we did in calendar years ’18 and ’19,” Pickelman told the outlet.
The six businesses that received citations were:
- United Shore Financial Services, LLC, based in Pontiac
- UPS distribution facility based in Livonia
- Speedway, LLC, gas station and convenience store location based in Waterford
- Coop’s Iron Works, a fitness center based in Saginaw
- Dan Freed, a residential contractor based in Eaton Rapids
- Hills Roofing, LLC based in Niles
The highest fine was $7,000 and was given to a UPS distribution facility in Livonia, while the lowest was a $2,100 fine to Coop’s Iron Works in Saginaw. The total fines came to $33,400.
The citations included failure to have employees properly socially distance when it was possible, not wearing masks when in the same room, not alerting other employees if there was someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 who had visited the office and not requiring customers to wear masks, among other citations.
The companies will have 15 working days to contest the violations. They must also provide proof to MIOSHA that the problems have been fixed.
“We’re focused on education first so employers know what they must do to safely reopen. But a failure to follow guidelines puts everyone at risk,” said Michigan COVID-19 Workplace Safety Director Sean Egan in a statement. “While these citations are necessary to prevent potential serious illness, they are not a reflection of the tremendous cooperation we have seen from employers and their workers across the state.”
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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]