Business Consultant

COVID-19 and the Workplace

October 9, 20202

As businesses around the country move towards re-opening, employers are facing the possibility of having to manage a COVID-19 outbreak in their place of business. In addition to this worry, employers may be wondering what their liabilities may be in the event that a COVID-19 outbreak does occur. Intelligent Partnerships has compiled information meant to provide information for employers on their responsibilities and liabilities in regard to COVID-19; employers may want to seek legal advice for more information.

PLAN AND PREPARE

The best offense is a good defense. We have previously released guidance on preparing to reopen. In addition, both the CDC and OSHA have released guidance on preparing workplaces for COVID-19. Some of the recommendations include:

  • Have employees wear cloth face coverings

  • Practice social distancing

  • Conduct daily health checks

 

Employers should also make sure that they are properly following local guidance and state criteria. As states open back up, it is necessary to be aware of regional requirements and
follow the rules for safely doing so. It would be prudent to review insurance policies in advance of reopening and seek guidance from advisors about appropriate limits and how to protect your specific business and your clients.

SANITATION

According to the CDC, frequently touched surfaces need to be disinfected. The EPA has compiled a list of disinfectants that are known to kill the coronavirus on surfaces. The CDC has also released guidance on how to properly disinfect surfaces.

POSITIVE CASES

In the event that there is a positive case of COVID-19 in your workplace, the CDC has released guidance on steps that should be taken to prevent further spread. It is also important that employers observe the expanded FMLA in these cases, as required by Federal Law.
 

In the event of increased cases in your local area, you should also be prepared for your state and/or local guidance to mandate another Stay at Home order. Having a plan in place, and fully informing your staff of the plan, will help to mitigate the negative effects of a sudden shutdown.

LIABILITY

The first cases of employer liability are being argued in court right now. It seems that the biggest liability may come from Failure to Protect Claims.
 

Under these claims, employees must prove that they contracted COVID-19 at work, which could be difficult. OSHA could cite employers for violating the general duty clause, if it is deemed that employers did not take reasonable steps to prevent a recognized hazard.
 

To help prevent legal liability, employers should observe all CDC and OSHA guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus, including but not limited to shutting down operations to
properly sanitize the site and allowing anyone who may have been exposed to observe proper quarantining, as per CDC recommendations. It should be noted that employers might
want to seek legal counsel in the event of a positive COVID-19 case in the workplace.

Errors & Omissions Liability (E&O): Intelligent Partnerships, Inc. makes no guarantee that the statements, analysis, projections, estimates, graphs, reports, numbers, and any derivatives sourced from this resource are free of errors and omissions. This information is derived from publicly available sources and is intended to provide general information. Users should seek legal and medical expert validation independent of any resources provided here. The information is current as of the published date. Intelligent Partnerships, Inc. assumes no liability for erroneous outcomes derived from this information or its use.

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