Sean Egan, a member of Muskegon, Mich., Local 275, has been appointed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as Director of COVID-19 Workplace Safety.
“We are very proud to have one of our own in such a high-profile position,” said Local 275 Business Manager Jonas Talbott. “With Sean's background as a journeyman, business manager and lawyer, to name a few, the IBEW and Michigan building trades know that we now have a voice in the state, and that our voice is being heard.”
The appointment, announced June 5, expands Egan’s current duties for the Great Lake State. He is also the deputy director for Labor at the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity where he oversees the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Workers’ Disability Compensation Agency, the Bureau of Employment Relations and the Wage and Hour Division.
“As a Navy veteran, journeyman electrician, activist and proud Michigander, I have spent my career helping families in this state and I am honored to be appointed to serve as director of COVID-19 Workplace Safety,” Egan said in a statement. “By taking the right steps to protect their employees and customers, businesses will serve a critical role in lowering the chance of a second wave and I look forward to working with the business community to ensure we get this right.”
In the new role, Egan will coordinate with the relevant agencies to ensure that working people have the protections and rights necessary to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19. He will also be doing a lot of outreach to both the employee and employer communities to educate on responsibilities, tools and resources to help keep the workplace safe.
“Sean Egan has spent his career helping working families in Michigan and I am confident he will continue to do everything in his power to protect workers and their families from the spread of COVID-19,” Governor Whitmer said in a statement. “He will be responsible for helping ensure that as businesses across the state begin to reopen under the MI Safe Start Plan, they enact strict safety measures to protect the health and safety of employees and customers.”
Egan says they have worked with MIOSHA to develop materials including fact sheets, flyers, guidelines and posters, much of which is available at the Labor Department’s website. They also launched a COVID-19 hotline with dedicated MIOSHA staff to answer calls and questions from workers and businesses specific to COVID-19 issues.
“Overall, the goal is to educate, educate and do more education on what to do, what to expect, and how to report if necessary,” Egan said. “While there’s tons of news coverage of COVID, with so many questions and concerns, it is not clear that working people know what they and their employers should be doing in the workplace. One of our goals will be to ensure that businesses and workers clearly understand this new workplace dynamic.”
Michigan has been among the hardest hit states, with more than 60,000 confirmed cases as of June 18, but it has seen some promising data recently as the state slowly begins to reopen. The state’s daily average of new cases has dropped 50% since June 1, one of the sharpest drops in the country.