Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Adjustments in Penalties for Michigan for Workplace Covid Safety Violations

We know we need some penalties for protecting workers from Covid. The extent of those penalties is open to debate. A case brought forward by Associated Builders & Contractors of Michigan and DJ’s Lawn Service, Inc. indicates that the maximum penalties is a misdemeanor. I think this may have been set in the original EO laws (not going to spend the time to look it up). It is a balance because workplaces do need to protect workers but sometimes get neglectful in the need to make a profit. At the same time, we want to ensure that such violations are appropriate to the "crime". It was $70K, up to felonies, and administered by MIOSHA. There will be some decision on whether to appeal by the Attorney General. It may not be worth it as COVID cases are on the decline. Probably better to just let it go for the the need for these measures may be lessening.

On the flip side, one could easily make the other argument that we could have a surge and might be strategically acceptable to appeal to ensure bad actors don't circumvent reasonable protections. However, there is no guarantee that there will be a surge and we may not be sure how many people are violating such rules. With any movement there are some issues as they associate with risk and reward from each of the main two perspectives. We do know that business has a major influence in economic development so all regulations must find the "happy place" balance. Move too closely to no regulations and some businesses take advantage and move to far into regulation and business is stifled. We haven't found where this should during a pandemic and who has what kind of responsibilities.

Typically I like to use what is necessary for the time to curb bad actors and return to "run the railroad" balance where things function in homeostasis. This is where good data will help determine the amount, cost and violations that are occurring. If there isn't a lot of violators and the risks are relatively low we do not need major regulations. We can also consider the process of encouraging self-regulation while strengthening the ability to hold those who do not consider the health of their workers accountable. I think there may be a lot of philosophies here.

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