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May 2003
05
May 05, 2003

What Your Small Business Needs to Know About MiOSHA

Regardless of the size of your business, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act (“MiOSHA”) most likely still applies to you. MiOSHA applies to all places of employment in the state, except domestic employment and mines. In addition, MiOSHA defines an “employer” as “an individual or organization, including the state or a political subdivision, which employs 1 or more persons.” Accordingly, most small businesses will be covered by MiOSHA.

If MiOSHA applies to you, there are a number of things that you must do to comply with MiOSHA. MiOSHA sets forth the following duties of an employer:

  1. Furnish to each employee, employment and a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards that are causing, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm to the employee.

     
  2. Comply with MiOSHA and the rules and standards promulgated and the orders issued pursuant to MiOSHA.

     
  3. Post notices and use other appropriate means to keep employees informed of their protections and obligations under MiOSHA, including applicable rules and standards.

     
  4. Provide personal protective equipment at the employer's expense when it is specifically required to be provided at the employer's expense in a rule or a standard promulgated by a standards promulgating commission.

What this means is that unless a rule or standard contains a restriction as to size, a small business is required to comply with MiOSHA the same way a large business is required to comply.

Posting Requirements: An employer must post the Michigan Safety and Health “Protection on the Job” poster. In addition, if hazardous chemicals are present - such as cartridges for a copy machine, paint, or oil – two additional posters must be posted: “MSDS for this Workplace are Located At” and “New or Revised MSDS.” A copy of the Occupational Noise Standard also may need to be posted if this Standard is applicable.

Recordkeeping: A small employer also may be required to maintain records of injuries and illnesses of employees. Employers with ten (10) or more employees, unless in an exempt category, must maintain a MiOSHA Form 200 and Form 101 for all work-related injuries and illnesses. Furthermore, all employers, regardless of size, are required to report any fatality or the inpatient hospitalization of three (3) or more employees within 8 hours of the incident.

Written Programs: Written programs and training also may be required. Two written programs are required for almost all employers: a Hazard Communication Program and a Hazard Assessment. A Hazard Communication Program is required under the Hazard Communication & Retention of DOT Markings, Placards and Labels Standard for any employer with hazardous chemicals. Because the definition of “hazardous chemical” is very broad, most, if not all, employers will be required to have a Hazard Communication Program and train employees under the Program.

The second written program which most employees will be required to have is a Hazard Assessment. This program is required to comply with the Personal Protective Equipment Standard. To conduct a Hazard Assessment, employers are required to look at every job and determine what hazards are present which could require the use of personal protective equipment. Once the Hazard Assessment is completed, employees must be trained on the type of personal protective equipment required when doing their jobs.

Several other written programs and training on these programs also may be required, depending on the type of work the business is performing. These programs include: a hearing conservation program, a lockout/tagout program, a permit-required confined space entry program, a respiratory protection program, a bloodborne pathogens program, a process safety management program, a lead program, an asbestos program and a mobile equipment program. In addition to the standards which require written programs and training, there are several other standards that may apply, regardless of size. For example, there is a standard governing fire exits. There also are a number of standards that address equipment guarding.

Fines and Penalties: Failure to comply with MiOSHA can result in civil and criminal fines. Civil fines can be as much as $70,000 per violation. Criminal fines can be as much as $10,000 for a first violation and $20,000 for a second conviction. In addition to imposing a fine, an employer can be imprisoned for up to one year for a first violation and up to three years for a second conviction.

While this article highlights a number of MiOSHA requirements that apply to small employers, compliance with all MiOSHA requirements can be assured only through a complete evaluation of the business and the MiOSHA Standards.


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Karen J. VanderWerff is an associate with Warner Norcross & Judd LLP specializing in labor and employment law, occupational safety and health law. Warner Norcross & Judd is a full-service law firm with offices in Grand Rapids, Holland, Metro Detroit and Muskegon. Karen may be reached in the Grand Rapids office at 616.752.2183. Because each business situation is different, this information is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice.

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