An IBEW member joined America’s Work Force Radio Podcast on Aug. 18 to discuss his new role as Director of COVID-19 Workplace Safety in the state of Michigan.
Navy veteran, IBEW journeyman, labor leader and now government official, Sean Egan is tasked with overseeing workplace safety amidst the COVID-19 pandemic in the state of Michigan.
Enforcing workplace standards
Labor and union groups have been calling out for some type of enforcement standard regarding COVID-19 regulations and safety standards amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. With a largely absent federal arm of OSHA, states such as Virginia and Michigan have taken matters into their own hands in regards to safety for their members.
The General Duty Clause
Over the past months, OSHA has received 6,000 to 7,000 complaints nationwide. Of the complaints, they have issued two citations. Egan said Michigan is using the General Duty Clause to be able to better enforce their own standards.
The General Duty Clause states that an employer has an obligation to provide a workplace free of recognizable hazards. COVID-19 is now a recognizable standard, forcing employers to be more careful about decisions they make.
Thanks to Michigan using the General Duty Clause, Egan said Michigan OSHA officials have the ability to enforce regulations through spot inspections and visits.
Importance of a union workplace
Egan touched on the union presence in a workplace. He mentioned the reputation of union workplaces to be safer, have better conditions and in some situations, better pay.