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Muskegon twp

Currently, in an effort to stay busy, I have been asked to seek out code violations proactively. I am working from home, and only communicate electronically. Our office staff have been limited to one person per area for social distancing. For now everyone works every third day to accomplish this.

Once the stay at home order is lifted we will be resuming rental inspections. At this point the conversation has been started as to what that looks like from a safety stand point.

A few thoughts we are working through in my office.

 

 

 

The main issues to be addressed first are 1. Inspector Safety  2. Cross-contamination 3. Occupant Safety.

 

Our thoughts regarding the  inspector's safety are as follows.  First, while inspecting and driving the inspectors vehicle during inspection hours, I would recommend wearing an N-95 compatible mask that is a good fit.  The reason for wearing a mask when not actually inspecting is that it has been proven/suspected that the virus will attach to shoes and clothing and live for a while.  Because of this, when driving a car with windows open or Air conditioning on, the air currents are blowing that virus around in an enclosed space (the vehicle) and possibly into your face.  So in other words, consider the vehicle as contaminated.  This part we have already experienced with roaches and fleas...

 

First off. What does your municipal  Attorney think about your liability if you inadvertently cross-contaminate dwellings, or someone claims you did?  This is a real concern and can easily happen.  If you don't have any liability, great!  If you do, is it worth doing the inspections??  Weigh the risks....

 

Inspector Concerns

The inspector should be equipped with Alcohol based hand sanitizer that can be used frequently.  At the very least sanitize before entering a home and  after leaving, same thing for multiple apartments so you don't get blamed/sued for spreading a virus. Use disposable latex gloves that are discarded after each inspection and before entering the vehicle.  A garbage container for them in the trunk, etc.  An inspectors job is to check door knobs and doors, look for loose toilet seats, sink knobs and many other items used intimately by the occupants.  Consider all these and more as potential infection points.  Which leads me to complexes.  Unless you had a huge supply of shoe booties to change after each apartment, I don't see how you are going to prevent cross-contamination of apartments.  The virus lives on flooring when people sneeze or cough in their own homes, without any thought of visitors and it is then tracked on an inspector's shoes at the least. Some kind of disinfectant to spray shoes down between inspections becomes critical to prevent cross-contamination.  The type of footwear should be something that lends its self to easily being cleaned... From a safety & liability aspect, you may want to consider issuing a temporary certificate for a 1-year extension on all complexes. Cross-contamination will be real.  Infecting the little old lady next door could happen easily.  Due to the cost of disposable coveralls and the dis-comfort wearing them, I am not sure they are practical.  I will leave that up to you.  (see next paragraph) But  in my opinion, I don't see how you can easily do complexes safely.  Not impossible, but not real practical if you wish to prevent cross-contamination.  An inspector should plan to modify his inspection routine on a per home basis, to preserve his safety.  For example this might mean marking on the reports any area he could not safely inspect and either skip it until next Certificate, or, schedule a re-inspection and ask for the problem to be remedied.  This is no time for heroes!

 

Clothing.  Well since some estimates place the number of virus carriers without symptoms at around 50%, you will have to assume to be in many homes with the virus, depending upon what is touched, rubbed up against, moved etc. This means your clothing will become contaminated.  So when finished inspecting for the day the inspector will need to have a secure area to change all clothing and shoes before entering the main office.  This means time must be allotted for him to change.  What about cleaning the contaminated clothes?  Does the municipality want to provide uniforms like mechanics get, that will be laundered off-site and changed daily.  That means to have enough that there are 5 into the laundry service and 5 at the office to wear and maybe an extra pair just in case....per week.    Some of those companies have nice looking stuff and not just plain blue. Lol  I suspect this route is cheaper, safer and much more comfortable than coveralls.

 

Occupants.  Now here is a tough one.  I will cover some of this in the Office suggestion remarks.  But here goes.  All homes to be inspected in the near future will be full of people, pets and potentially loaded with bugs, a virus and who knows, at least until the bans are lifted.  Folks have been cooped up for months.  Somehow the inspector and 1 person need to go through the home safely.   This part will not be easy and how many landlords want to go through these homes??  My guess, not many.   We can't require the occupants to wear masks in their own home, but if the inspector does not feel safe because of sick or potentially sick people in the home, he should exit the building and re-schedule.  So we need to have a person to walk through and somehow run interference with occupants or confine the other occupants (think wild kids) to the Living room while the inspector is on site.  I say living room because it is usually the biggest and has the easiest violations to spot from a distance...but every home is different.  The inspector will have to protect his space!  Keep people out of his face etc.  That should be covered as soon as he walks in the door.  Ideally, send the little rascals outside to play !!  🙂

 

Back office and policy concerns. 

Should all letters going out, both landlord and occupant have a new letter stapled to the front (cover sheet) using say Yellow paper, state something like "Our Municipality  has adopted numerous procedures and safety measures for use during our inspection of your dwelling.  But we need your help too.  Most importantly, if any occupants of the home are currently ill or exhibiting any of the following symptoms   (you will need to include these) Please advise us in advance, or if new, advise the inspector immediately upon their arrival.   On the date and time of the inspection, please have a minimal number of occupants inside the home to allow for proper Social Distancing throughout the dwelling and face coverings are strongly encouraged.  Please have all pets confined in some place like a pet box or outside.  Please be prepared to have one person designated to walk through with the inspector at a safe distance. This person should NOT be responsible to watch pets or other occupants such as children, during the inspection.  The inspector retains the right to terminate the inspection if the conditions in their opinion, are unsafe or dangerous to either their health, or that of the occupants.  If an inspection must be rescheduled due to dangerous conditions (the first one will be at no cost) or ( you will be billed for the inspection.)  and another inspection date will be set-up.  I think a letter template should be used for this so there is proof it was sent and different color paper to attract attention.

 

The only remaining concern I can think of has kind of been covered and that is items the inspector uses during the day, being brought into the office or their home.  Computers, writing instruments and especially shoes and clothes.

we have officially adopted a plan.

Muskegon Charter Township COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan
Introduction
The novel coronavirus (“COVID-19”) pandemic is a respiratory infection that has spread throughout the United States, including Michigan. At this time, there is no known vaccine to treat COVID-19 and 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”).

The Department of Labor (“DOL”) and OSHA have stated that it is important to plan now for potential COVID-19 outbreaks in order to reduce the impact of these outbreaks at the workplace and throughout the community. Pursuant to Executive Order 2020-77, the Muskegon Charter Township Board of Trustees (“Township”) has adopted this Preparedness and Response Plan (“Plan”) 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. The intent of this plan is to provide guidance on keeping employees and the public safe while reducing the impact of a COVID-19 outbreak amongst staff. This is a flexible document in which changes from the plan may occur due to the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ever changing Executive Orders from the Governor.

This Plan designates The Township Supervisor as the Township’s WORKPLACE COORDINATOR to oversee and implement the policies of this Plan. The Township Treasurer is designated as back-up workplace coordinator in the event that the Supervisor is absent, sick or otherwise unavailable to oversee and implement the policies of this Plan. This plan will be approved by the Township Board and will be re-reviewed by the board as changes occur. Changes may be approved retroactively as members of management may have to implement changes prior to Board approval and may do so with the consent of the Supervisor.

1. Symptoms of COVID-19:
Employees of the Township should familiarize themselves with the symptoms for COVID-19 for self-monitoring purposes. Any employee experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should immediately inform the Workplace Coordinator and go home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) describes symptoms for COVID-19 to include:

 Cough
 Shortness of breath or difficult breathing
 Fever
 Chills
 Muscle Pain
 Sore Throat
 New loss of taste or smell

 nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

2. Preventative Measures

Daily screening for workers

Employees who are sick are encouraged to stay home. Pursuant to Executive Order 2020-77, anyone entering the workplace is required to answer a questionnaire covering the symptoms and suspected or confirmed exposure to people with possible COVID-19 contact or infections. The Workplace Coordinator or one specific designated employee approved by the Workplace Coordinator is responsible for evaluating employee’s daily questionnaires. The answers are confidential and private with as minimal personal information included. Employees who do not have a temperature over 100.4 degrees shall continue to monitor themselves for any COVID-19 symptoms throughout each day.

The questionnaire shall ask every Township employee entering Township Facilities the following questions:
1. What is your temperature?

2. Do you have a fever of 100 degrees or greater?

3. Do you have a cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, sore throat, muscle pain, and/or new loss of taste or smell?

4. Do you have a pending COVID-19 test?

5. Have you traveled internationally or outside Michigan in the last 14 days?

6. Does anyone in your house have a fever of 100.4 or higher or have any other COVID-19 symptoms?

7. Have you had contact with another person diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 14 days or has pending test results?

Any employee or worker who answers “yes” any of these questions may be sent home and may not return to work until the provisions of Section 4, “Sick Employees Returning to Work” are satisfied.

Self-Monitoring

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 shall leave work immediately. Employees shall immediately disclose to the Workplace Coordinator if s/he was exposed to COVID-19. Any employee who knowingly comes in contact with COVID-19 or is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms must inform his/her employer immediately.

Social Distancing

Employees shall comply with social distancing standards defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”). The CDC defines “social distancing” to mean keeping space between yourself and other people outside your home. Employees are required to stay at least six (6) feet away from other people and shall not gather in groups where social distancing standards cannot be satisfied. Township employees shall make every effort to avoid congregating in all areas. Masks have been provided to all employees to utilize at any time when social distancing guidelines cannot be followed.

Increased Facility Cleaning and Disinfection

The spread of COVID-19 occurs most frequently between people who are in close proximity to each other (less than 6 feet). The Township shall provide and ensure sufficient hand cleaners, disinfecting supplies and sanitizers. Employees are required to clean and disinfect their workspaces daily. Employees shall clean their work spaces with soap and water if disinfectant cleaners are not available.

Proper Workplace Hygiene Etiquette

Employees should wash hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when available. Employees should not use co-workers’ telephones, workspaces or other personal items. Employees should disinfect their workspaces daily. Employees working with shared equipment such as printers, fax machines, microwaves, vehicles,shovels, mowers etc, must establish a routine or process for cleaning and disinfecting regularly, or clean appropriately after each use.

Personal Protection Equipment (“PPE”)

Executive Order 2020-77 states that employees are required to wear masks where the work environment is such that they cannot consistently maintain six (6) feet of separation from other people. The Township will provide the appropriate Personal Protection Equipment to employees based on the individual occupational risk.

3. Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 Cases.

“Suspected COVID-19 Case” means an employee who experiences COVID-19 symptoms or was exposed to COVID-19.

 An employee who experiences COVID-19 symptoms or has been exposed to an infected person shall immediately notify the Workplace Coordinator or their direct supervisor.
 The infected employee’s name shall remain confidential and the Workplace Coordinator shall inform all employees or workers who came in contact with the infected person that they might have been exposed to COVID-19.
 Employees who experience COVID-19 symptoms or become sick must go home immediately.
 The Workplace Coordinator shall ensure the infected employee’s workspace and any other area s/he came in contact with is thoroughly disinfected and cleaned.
 An employee who is a “Suspected of COVID-19 Case” may return to work once the provisions of Section 4 of this Plan are satisfied.

“Confirmed COVID-19 Cases” means an employee who has tested positive for COVID-19.

 Any employee who tests positive for COVID-19 shall inform the Workplace Coordinator immediately and must go home immediately.

 An employee who is a “Confirmed COVID-19 Case” shall immediately disclose the names of other employees or workers s/he came in contact with during the past 14 days to the Workplace Coordinator.
 The infected employee’s name shall remain confidential and the Workplace Coordinator shall inform all employees or workers who came in contact with the infected person that they might have been exposed to COVID-19.
 The Workplace Coordinator shall ensure the infected employee’s workspace and any other area s/he came in contact with is thoroughly disinfected and cleaned.
 An employee who is a “Confirmed COVID-19 Case” may return to work once the provisions of Section 4 of this Plan are satisfied.

4. Sick Employees Returning to Work.

This Plan adopts recommendations from the CDC regarding when an employee may return to work if s/he is a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19. The CDC has developed two acceptable strategies to help determine when an employee with a suspected or confirmed of case COVID-19 may return to work:

1. Symptom-based Strategy:

Employee will be excluded from work until: at least three (3) days or seventy-two (72 hours) have passed since the employee has recovered, defined by resolution of fever without the use of fever reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms such as cough or shortness of breath; and, at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

Test-Based Strategy:

Employee will be excluded from work until: resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications, and improvement in respiratory symptoms such as cough or shortness of breath; and a Negative test or Doctors written authorization to return to work.

5. Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”): Employee Paid Leave Rights.

The FFCRA requires the Township to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for certain reasons related to COVID-19. Employees are entitled to the following benefits provided by the FFCRA:

 Two weeks (up to 80 hours or the average bi-weekly hours worked) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or

 Two weeks (up to 80 hours or the average bi-weekly hours worked) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor; and

 Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee, who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days, is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.”

An employee may choose to substitute any accrued vacation leave, personal leave or medical/sick leave for the first two weeks of partial paid leave. Although notice of leave is not required, employees are encouraged to inform the Workplace Coordinator if leave is foreseeable

A. Qualified Reasons for Leave.
The FFCRA provides the following qualifying reasons for leave:
1. Is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;

2. Has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;

3. Is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;

4. Is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);

5. Is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19; or

6. Is experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury.

B. Duration of Leave.

For reasons (1)-(4) and (6): A full-time employee is eligible for 80 hours of leave or the standard bi-weekly hours worked, and a part-time employee is eligible for the number of hours of leave that the employee works on average over a two-week period.

For reason (5): A full-time employee is eligible for up to 12 weeks of leave (two weeks of paid sick leave followed by up to 10 weeks of paid expanded family & medical leave) at 40 hours a week, and a part-time employee is eligible for leave for the number of hours that the employee is normally scheduled to work over that period.

C. Calculation of Pay.

For leave reasons (1), (2), or (3): employees taking leave are entitled to pay at either their regular rate or the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate (over a 2-week period).

For leave reasons (4) or (6): employees taking leave are entitled to pay at 2/3 their regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate (over a 2-week period).

For leave reason (5): employees taking leave are entitled to pay at 2/3 their regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $200 per day and $12,000 in the aggregate (over a 12-week period).

Departmental Best Practices

The above listed precautions are broad expectations of all Muskegon Township staff. Each Township department offers varying services therefore each department will have its own unique processes of precaution to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Included below are specific standards of practices set forth for each department. These lists are not all inclusive but are intended to put forth general guidelines intended to keep staff and the community safe. Each Department Head will provide their staff with the detailed requirements for their specific roles.

Township Hall and all Township Facilities

1. Township Hall will remain closed to the public until the Governor’s Stay Home Stay Safe order expires or until the Governor allows for office buildings, or municipal offices, to resume normal operations.
2. Safety Shields or windows will be placed to create a barrier between public and staff in all areas where staff regularly helps customers.
3. Markings will be placed on the floor marking the required 6’ of social distancing
4. Signage will be posted in public areas reminding visitors to abide by social distancing standards and also cautioning entrance to the building if a person has been exposed to or is COVID-19 positive.
5. In person meetings will be encouraged to take place in the Senior Center/Community Room to lessen travel from the public through Township Hall. There will be a shared calendar to allow for scheduling. Social Distancing will be followed with arrangement of this space.
6. Restrooms will be closed to the public until deemed safe to open.
7. Employees working with shared equipment such as printers, fax machines, microwaves, etc., must establish a routine or process for cleaning and disinfecting regularly, or disinfect after each use.
8. The use of masks or face coverings will be strongly encouraged when entering Township Hall
9. Self-Monitoring will be reported daily by 8:30 am.

Fire
1. Fire Department Staff will continue to follow all previously implemented COVID-19 protocols for mitigation and monitoring.
2. Business/Annual Inspections will be delayed. Once the time is appropriate to conduct inspections they will be done so by the Fire Marshal with the use of non-medical grade face coverings.
3. Incident response criteria and procedures have already been implemented and will change accordingly.
4. Departmental training will be eased into by possibly limiting the size in the classroom and utilizing Target Solutions when possible.
5. Socialization amongst staff within the Stations will be limited to certain locations and then transitioned back to normal as the Fire Chief deems it safe based on local and state guidelines.
6. Fire Station visits from Non-FD personnel such as FD families and other service members will be transitioned back to normal as the Fire Chief deems it safe based on local and state guidelines.
7. On-duty personnel will wear non-medical face covers based on CDC/State guidelines while out in public.
8. Self-Monitoring protocols will be continued until rescinded.

Planning-Zoning

1. Preferred method for meeting with applicants will be by appointment as often as possible
2. Meetings with applicants will take place in the community room shared space with social distancing measures in places and face coverings required. Meeting space will be cleaned with disinfectant or soap before and after meeting.
3. In person meetings will be held with no more than 2 visitors in attendance.
4. Continuation of active online and phone communication.
5. Continue Planning Commission meetings virtually until it is deemed safe or Executive Order 2020-75 allowing for virtual meetings is rescinded.
6. All paperwork plans submitted will be held for 48 hours before being reviewed.

Police

1. General public will now be required to wait in the lobby for assistance through the new safety/teller window.
2. There will be markings placed on the floor indicating appropriate social distance while waiting in the lobby.
3. Officers are encouraged to only enter residences when absolutely necessary and to conduct business outside whenever possible.
4. Officers will continue to be diligent on personal hygiene and will continue to regularly sanitize and disinfect themselves and patrol vehicles.
5. Some 911 service calls can be handled over the phone and the officers are encouraged to continue that practice whenever possible as this pandemic continues.

Public Works

1. Staff has been trained on the proper way to dispose of PPE
2. Appropriate PPE (safety glasses, gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfectant spray/wipes and masks) will be provided and worn while performing tasks that may include contact with contaminated items or infected people.
3. Social Distancing guidelines will continue to be followed when working in close proximity of one another.
4. Vehicles will be cleaned with disinfectant at the end of each shift or when occupants change.

Rental Inspections

1. First time rental inspections will be conducted onsite with re-inspections being done virtually whenever possible.
2. Virtual inspections will be conducted as often as possible. The landlord shall have the proper device and satisfactory signal with audio and visual abilities. Arrangements will be made for inspections when the landlord is unable to access such equipment.
4. All required paperwork submittals will be done electronically via email or drop box.

Treasurer

1. Continue to encourage residents to use the drop box with checks or money orders for utility payments.
2. Drop box will continue to be checked multiple times a day.
3. Gloves are provided for handling payments and mail.
4. Safety Shields will be installed to create a barrier between staff and the public.
5. Cash paying residents will be encouraged to call the office to schedule a time to make payment. A shared calendar will help to schedule these appointments.
6. Cashiers will alternate in 30 minute increments to allow time for transactions and the sanitation process.
7. Over the phone credit card payments will continue as they have been.
8. There will be marking and signage placed to encourage proper distance when there are multiple visitors in the building.

Township Board

1. Virtual meetings will be held until Executive Order 2020-75 is rescinded or extended. Upon an extension or change to EX 2020-75 the Township will continue hosting virtual meetings until virtual meetings are no longer allowed.
2. Once public gatherings are permitted and virtual meetings are prohibited the Township will take all safety precautions possible to keep the members of the board and meeting attendees safe within the social distancing guidelines.

Conclusion

These departmental guidelines included are not inclusive and are subject to change. These processes are intended to mitigate the spread and exposure of COVID-19 and to allow the daily business of the Township to be conducted.