Reed City construction company fined $2K for COVID-19 violations

Lack of social distancing, face covers cited as reasons

LANSING — Gerber Construction Co. in Reed City was fined $2,000 for violating COVID-19 workplace safety requirements.

The business was found in violation of a lack of social distancing, and lack of face coverings when workers could not consistently maintain six feet of social distancing.

Total penalties including other workplace violations were $3,600. The inspection was initiated as a planned-programmed inspection, according to the state’s Emergency Management & Homeland Security Division.

As the state continues to prioritize worker safety and health, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspected and issued COVID-19 emergency rule or general duty citations to 23 different workplaces with violations for failing to protect workers and take safety precautions.

Most employers are complying with MIOSHA’s Emergency Rules and general duty clause with less than 5% of employers investigated having received enforcement actions.

There are a variety of programs that employers can use to ensure they can comply, stay open and ultimately stay safe. The MIOSHA Ambassador Program offers education and one-on-one guidance to help employers understand regulations on workplace safety.

Since the onset of the pandemic, through MIOSHA’s outreach and education, the agency is seeing strong implementation of these mitigation measures and has provided consultation to thousands of Michigan employers.

Under MIOSHA’s Emergency Rules, employers that resume in-person work must, among other things, have a written COVID-19 preparedness and response plan and provide thorough training to their employees that covers, at a minimum, workplace infection-control practices, the proper use of personal protection equipment, and steps workers must take to notify the business or operation of any symptoms of COVID-19 or a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19.

An emergency rule citation carries a fine of up to $7,000.

The MIOSHA general duty clause requires an employer to provide a workplace that is free from recognized hazards that are causing, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm to the employee. A general duty clause citation carries a fine of up to $7,000.

On-site inspections conducted by MIOSHA’s general industry and construction industry enforcement divisions determined 23 employers allegedly committed violations by failing to implement necessary precautions to protect employees from contracting COVID-19.

Deficiencies included a lack of health screenings, face coverings, employee training, and overall preparedness plans.

The cited employers have 15 working days from receipt of the MIOSHA citations to contest the violations and penalties. Employers must provide proof to MIOSHA that abatement has been completed.

A cited employer may choose to enter into a Penalty Reduction Agreement with MIOSHA and agree to abate noted hazards by the abatement date provided within the citation and will receive a 50% reduction in penalties.