SLHS cooperates with MIOSHA investigation

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published January 26, 2021

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — Stating that “the health and safety of our staff and students remains the district’s priority,” South Lake Schools “cooperated fully” with an investigation made by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration at South Lake High School.

South Lake Superintendent Ted VonHiltmayer said a complaint was made to MIOSHA by an employee at South Lake High School. The district wasn’t aware of the complaint until “MIOSHA just showed up one day.”

At the time of the complaint, there were no students in the school — only employees were reporting.

“There were some findings, and we did receive a fine. There were some things that were reported that weren’t entirely accurate. We did accept the results of the findings because it did cut the fine in half,” he explained.

The complaint was related to COVID-19 safety protocols, specifically masks and disinfecting. VonHiltmayer said the district did have a preparedness plan and staff training, unlike what was reported to MIOSHA, but the district accepted responsibility anyway.

VonHiltmayer said the investigator identified problems with the district’s documentation process. The South Lake Board of Education adopted a preparedness and response plan in August that was developed in conjunction with the Macomb Intermediate School District and mirrors the plans of all 21 districts in the county. As part of the plan, employees were required to complete an online coronavirus awareness training module prior to the start of school with information about the virus and how it spreads, as well as prevention measures, proper sanitization measures and the importance of wearing a mask.

Employees were also required to complete and document required daily health screenings before coming to work, but the district did not have the documentation proving the screenings were monitored and reviewed each day. That has now been corrected, VonHiltmayer said in a letter to the district, and daily surveys are now being maintained electronically.

South Lake was also supposed to have documentation as to the chemical make-up and safety response for different chemical agents being used throughout the school in hand sanitizer, the science lab and cleaning products. While it did have this documentation, it could not be easily located by the employee assisting MIOSHA and had not been updated. It is now being revised and updated, and all personnel are being instructed how to locate it.

“There was never any immediate danger to anyone. It was really a concern about more ... record keeping than anything else,” VonHiltmayer said.

He added that the district is continuing to work with the state agency to ensure that it does everything to its standards.