COVID-19 Tele-Town Hall: Workplace Safety with LEO’s Sean Egan

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As employers slowly transition employees back to the office and back to work onsite, the State of Michigan is working to provide businesses with workplace safety recommendations. Sean Egan, director of COVID-19 Workplace Safety for the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO), spoke with Detroit Regional Chamber Vice President of Government Relations Brad Williams in a Tele-Town Hall to answer businesses’ most pressing workplace safety questions.

Mask On

While it’s possible to reopen the economy safely, other states are already seeing spikes in new cases, said Egan. The reason is that many people could be carrying the virus undetected with little to no symptoms. Since the virus is transmitted through respiratory droplets, maintaining distance and wearing face masks lowers transmission rates. This is why the governor implemented an executive order requiring everyone physically able to wear a mask, Egan explained.

Masks are important because although many businesses and offices are marking the floor to indicate six feet, chances are, people are going to invade each other’s space anyway. While businesses should enforce mask-wearing as best they can, Egan said, the fact is that some customers will refuse to wear them. As long as we can keep up an 80% participation rate, he added, we can contain the spread in our communities.

Safety Policies

Businesses need to begin implementing daily health screenings for their employees, said Egan. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has created a MI Symptoms app where employees can track their daily symptoms.

“It’s a great tool, it’s free, it’s easy, and it’s going to help you find and remove those employees that may have COVID symptoms from the workplace,” said Egan.

When deciding whether to reopen offices, businesses should consider where their chokepoints are, explained Egan. For example, office spaces in high rises are impractical to reopen all at once since thousands of employees must share just a few elevators.

Michigan is depending on its businesses to practice voluntary compliance when it comes to implementing policies and providing personal protection equipment (PPE) and other COVID-19-preventative resources to their employees. The more businesses that do their best to comply with the governor’s orders, the less likely Michigan will see spikes in cases in the coming months.

Visit michigan.gov for more information on workplace safety.

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