The Fenton Township Board of Trustees adopted a COVID-19 response plan Monday, May 18 during the conference call meeting.
The vote was 6-1, with Trustee Mark Goupil dissenting.
Fenton Township hourly employees began working two days a week in the office beginning Monday, May 18, and this plan will help employees go back to work.
Per Michigan Executive Order 2020-77, the township had to adopt a COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan for the employer and employees to follow to promote the health safety and general welfare of its employees and public offices in order to reduce the impact of COVID-19 infections at the workplace, according to a letter from Thomas Broecker, operations manager and deputy clerk.
The plan is based on recommended language from the Michigan Townships Association and has been reviewed by the Township Attorney. Executive Orders issued by the governor require governmental agencies that remain open for in-person work to develop a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan consistent with recommendations in Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, developed by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).
This plan designates Broecker as the township’s workplace coordinator to oversee and implement the plan. Fire Chief Ryan Volz is designated as back-up workplace coordinator in the event that Broecker is absent, sick or otherwise unavailable.
The Township must restrict the number of workers present on the premises to no more than those strictly necessary to perform in-person work. There are 18 employees classified as critical infrastructure workers, including public safety, first responders and other community-based government operations and essential functions. Nine other employees are considered necessary as well.
All employees are encouraged to work remotely if they can. Employees who are sick are ordered to stay home. The workplace coordinator is responsible for measuring an employee’s temperature and observing any COVID-19 symptoms before the employee’s shift begins. Employees who do not have a temperature over 100.4 degrees shall monitor themselves for any COVID-19 symptoms. Anyone entering the workplace is required to answer a questionnaire with these questions:
1. Are you feeling sick?
2. Are you experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms?
3. In the past 72 hours, did you have a fever?
4. Have you been exposed to anyone who is a suspected case or confirmed case of COVID-19?
If the answer is yes, the employee will be sent home.
The most debate over the plan arose from the topic of taking the temperature of employees.
Trustee Christine Reid asked if temperature taking is an absolute requirement.
“I think there are privacy issues surrounding how you have to maintain that documentation,” she said. “You can’t be disclosing medical information in front of other employees.”
She said people who work would be highly sensitive to it and would not come to work if they had symptoms. She said taking someone’s temperature is almost a medical exam and could lead to liability issues.
Treasurer John Tucker said there’s liability if they don’t take people’s temperatures, especially because it’s a recommended practice.
Attorney Jack Belzer said he believes temperatures should be taken, but not recorded and kept. Broecker said the files would not be kept for a long period of time.
Trustee Vince Lorraine said this could be a legal issue, and Goupil, who works at Hurley, said they don’t take employees’ temperatures at the hospital because they self report if they’re feeling sick.
Supervisor Bonnie Mathis said if taking someone’s temperature could get someone to go to the hospital and could help save one life, then they should do it.
“It’s better than nothing,” she said.
This plan could change depending on future executive orders.
COVID-19 response plan
Employees must monitor themselves and self-report if they are exposed to COVID-19 and/or are experiencing any symptoms. Employees experiencing COVID-19 symptoms must leave work immediately. They are required to comply with 6-foot social distancing standards defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Township will provide hand cleaners, disinfecting supplies and sanitizers. Employees are required to clean and disinfect their workspaces daily. Employees are encouraged to wash hands regularly and should not use co-workers’ telephones, workspaces or other personal items.
Employees are encouraged to wear PPE to prevent exposure to contaminated surfaces. PPE includes gloves, protective eyewear, face shields, masks and respirators. PPE will be provided to workers who are at greater risk to exposure. Executive Order 2020-77 states that employees are required to wear masks where the work environment is such that they cannot consistently maintain 6 feet of separation from other people.
The plan includes protocol for those who are suspected to have COVID-19 and those who are confirmed to have it.
An employee who is a confirmed case, whose name will remain confidential, must disclose the names of other employees or workers they came in contact with during the past 14 days to the workplace coordinator. He shall inform all employees or workers who came in contact with the infected person that they might have been exposed to COVID-19. The employee’s workspace will be cleaned.
The plan includes protocol for previously sick employees returning to work, and benefits the township must provide to employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for certain reasons related to COVID-19 under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act FFCRA.