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Two Traverse City businesses cited for COVID-19 safety violations

Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration

More than a dozen companies in Michigan have been cited over the last several weeks for violations of the workplace safety rules meant to suppress the spread of COVID-19, the state Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Friday.

The citations carry fines up to $7,000.

The employers cited recently are based across the state, from ACME Iron and Wire Works in Detroit to J & E Electric in Ishpeming.

J & E Electric was fined $2,000 for a variety of violations, some of which the state called “serious.”

“That check is already in the mail,” said the company’s secretary, who declined to be named. “I don’t know what the heck happened. … But it’s taken care of now. We wouldn’t have paid it if we didn’t think it was justified.”

Two companies were cited for violations in Traverse City. One, Bloxsom Roofing and Siding Company, did not immediately return phone calls on Friday. A representative for the other, Multi-Shores Development, hung up when a caller from WCMU News identified himself as a reporter.

Jeff Cole, a spokesperson for manufacturer Dana Incorporated, said the company was disputing the violations it was issued at its plant in St. Clair.

“The safety of our people and our communities remains our highest priority, and Dana has implemented safety protocols across our facilities globally,” said Cole. “We strongly disagree with the findings of MIOSHA and have filed an appeal of this citation.”

The health and safety agency cited Dana for not enforcing the use of face coverings, not contacting the local health department when three cases of COVID-19 were detected on-site, and not keeping records of safety trainings and health screenings. The state proposed a fine of $4,000.

Cole did not immediately respond to questions about which citations it was disputing.

MIOSHA Director Bart Pickelman said uncovering violations of workplace safety rules helps protect workers and their communities from the spread of the novel coronavirus. “COVID is certainly at the top of the list of hazards that employees are being exposed to,” he said.

But Pickelman also stressed the vast majority of Michigan businesses are following the rules.

Despite that the state has now issued citations for pandemic safety violations to more than 100 employers, Pickelman said 97 percent of his agency’s inspections found no infractions. Most of the time, he said, “employers are doing what they need to do to protect their employees.”

And if an employer isn’t sure what to do, or wants to confirm that they’re following the rules, Pickelman said the state can help. “We have free resources, free assistance available,” he said. “Our motto is to educate before we regulate.”