Michigan Workplace Safety Law Reform Vetoed by Governor

An attempt by Michigan lawmakers to require Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) inspectors to show that a employers knowingly and willfully violated the state's worker safety law before issuing a "willful" violation got the boot from Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm on June 5.

In a letter to the Michigan Senate, Granholm noted, "I do not support this effort to hinder the effective and efficient administration of Michigan's workplace safety laws."

Under S.B. 647, for an inspector to issue a "willful" violation, the inspector must determine:

  • The employer had knowledge that the condition was hazardous and did not abate the hazard.
  • The employer was aware of the standard established by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act (MIOSH Act).
  • The employer knew that the condition at issue violated a standard established by the MIOSH Act.
  • Whether the employer had taken steps to comply with the standard established by the MIOSH Act.
  • How the nature and extent of the violation constituted plain indifference of the employer to the health and safety of the employees.
  • How the employer intentionally and deliberately disregarded his or her responsibilities under a specific provision of the MIOSH Act or a rule or standard adopted under the MIOSH Act.

Granholm also disapproved of measures in the legislation that "provide for and clarify procedure for obtaining interview statements during an inspection." These measures would discourage employees from telling MIOSHA about safety violations and would limit the ability of inspectors to obtain statements with employees, said Granholm.

S.B. 671 would require inspectors to tell employees and employers, during an interview or partial interview conducted as part of an inspection, investigation or violation proceeding, that the interviewee has the following rights:

  • The right to decline an interview.
  • The right to have the interview conducted in private.
  • The right to have present a representative of the interviewee. In such a case, the interview shall be conducted on a date and in a location mutually agreed upon by all of the parties to the interview.

Members of the state senate who say the legislation is necessary to make Michigan more of a business-friendly state - are not ruling out the possibility of attempting to override Granholm's veto or of proposing new, similar legislation.

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