The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance reacted to the six-month extension of the Michigan Occupational Safety & Health Administration (MIOSHA) Emergency Rules. The Alliance represents 16 chambers and economic development organizations and over 7,000 member businesses from across northern Michigan.  

“The Alliance and all of our member organizations are frustrated to see the MIOSHA Emergency Rules extended after we have been working to advocate against such an extension,” said Stacie Bytwork, the chairperson of the Alliance and president and CEO of the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce. “Our businesses are eager to get back to work and continue our economic recovery from this pandemic.” 

“Our member organizations urge the public to continue supporting local businesses and do their part to stay safe so we can continue reopening,” said Sarah Hagen, vice-chairperson of the Alliance and president of the Charlevoix Area Chamber of Commerce. “The Alliance will continue to advocate for eased restrictions for our offices and other businesses.”

The Alliance reiterated to its member businesses that despite the six-month extension, that does not necessarily mean six more months of prohibitions on most in-office work. The emergency rules can be modified or withdrawn at any time in response to changes in COVID-19 spread.
MIOSHA Extends Emergency Rule Without Changes
On Tuesday, April 13, 2021 Governor Whitmer extended the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (MIOSHA) Emergency Rules on COVID-19 Workplace Safety through October 14, 2021.

These Emergency Rules govern the workplace, including social distancing,
mask-wearing, and sanitation practices. They also effectively prohibit in-person work by requiring employers to “create a policy prohibiting in-person work for employees to the extent that their work activities can feasibly be completed remotely.” We had been hopeful that the Emergency Rules, when extended, would include more flexibility for in-person work, among other changes. Unfortunately, the Governor opted to extend the Emergency
Rules, without change, but has indicated the prohibition on in-person work could be lifted sooner with no clear indication as to when that might be or what that change might look like. 
MIOSHA Begins Pursuing ‘Permanent’ MIOSHA COVID-19 Workplace Safety Rules
MIOSHA also filed Draft Rules with the Michigan Secretary of State on Tuesday. The rules would extend many of MIOSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Rules on a permanent basis. 

The “permanent” COVID-19 workplace safety rules would cover bot
general industry and construction employers and be promulgated through
the regular rule making process (which is expected to take six to 12 months). Although the draft rules do deviate from MISOHA’s Emergency
Rules, the permanent rules track the Emergency Rules and are very similar.

Of concern is language related to remote work. 
The permanent rules specify: “The employer shall create a policy
promoting remote work for employees to the extent that their work activities can feasibly (e.g., technical, economical performance) be completed remotely.”It also gives more discretion to local public health authorities on the
timeline by which an employee may return to the workplace after a
known or suspected case of COVID-19. Finally, the proposed permanent
rules do not specify a sunset date or timeline under which the rules will be rescinded. 
The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance released its 2020 Annual Report to its member organizations, offering a summary of the coalition’s accomplishments. The organization’s annual report recaps their COVID-19 and reopening advocacy in addition to efforts to adopt a new policy platform.

Chambers across Michigan and their members are invited to join Senator Gary Peters on Friday from 1:45 - 2:25 p.m. for a discussion of the American Rescue Plan and the recovery and reopening of our economy as restrictions are lifted.

In order to attend, simply click on the link below, which will take you to the registration page for the event. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. Please submit any questions for consideration in the comment box included on the registration page.

The Alliance exists to advocate for rural northern Michigan and move forward rural-centric business policy.

Stacie Bytwork, Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance Chairperson
President & CEO of the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce

Sarah Hagen, Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance Vice-Chair
President & CEO of the Charlevoix Area Chamber of Commerce

Kirstie Sieloff - Director of Government Relations
Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance & Traverse Connect

Find us on the web and like us on facebook
400 River Street
Manistee, MI 49660