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Construction companies hit with fines for violating COVID-19 safety precautions

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A worker stands on the roof of a new home under construction on Sept. 24, 2020 in South San Francisco, California. (WWMT/Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) announced its latest round of workplaces to be cited for failing to follow COVID-19 safety precautions Jan. 12, 2021.

Around a dozen Michigan home construction companies were among the 57 businesses cited by MIOSHA violators fined so far.

MIOSHA had been cracking down on construction employees not following COVID-19 guidelines.

"Currently, MIOSHA is conducting a state emphasis program that specifically applies to the construction industry in Michigan. The program was set up to inspect construction employers to ensure they are protecting their workers from SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19," said Jason Moon, Communications Director, Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.

MIOSHA issued a $2,100 fine to six west Michigan construction, remodeling or roofing companies.

MIOSHA said each of the following companies failed to require masks when within six feet of each other, had no COVID-19 preparedness/response plan and failed to train its employees on COVID-19 protocols:

The citations were issued in June-July 2020 by MIOSHA inspectors who were driving by worksites to find violators. As indoor construction ramps up right now, the state's Homebuilders Association said safety is more important than ever.

"We knew they were going to step up enforcement on construction particularly on remolding and roofing companies," Michigan Homebuilders Association executive Vice President for Governmental Relations Lee Schwartz said.

Schwartz said the Homebuilders Association worked with MIOSHA to develop COVID-19 safety guidelines for the construction industry. Schwartz recommends builders and remodelers have proper PPE, sanitize and keep distance from customers.

"The idea is to keep the clients safe and the employees safe. You've got to control access, limit exposure of your client and limit exposure to your employees," Schwartz.

Darren Williams, the owner of American Eagle Home Improvement in Bangor, said on June 16, a MIOSHA inspector drove by a worksite in Mattawan and saw his crews working within close distances without masks.

Williams said he agreed to work with the agency and get his fines reduced in half.

MIOSHA can fine businesses up to $7,000 per citation. Employers have 15 working days to contest the penalties.

Workplaces can enter into a deal with MIOSHA and agree to fix the issues in a set time period and get a 50% reduction in penalties, but they must agree not to appeal.

Inspections evaluate the employers’ compliance with existing MIOSHA standards along with the MIOSHA Emergency Rules for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).