As your organization prepares to reopen, it is crucial to implement a plan to mitigate potential risks of exposing your employees, volunteers, and clients to COVID-19. It is not only necessary for the health and safety of your employees but also to protect your organization against Coronavirus claims. When a claim arises, investigators, lawyers, and the insurance carrier will review the steps your organization took to ensure that your risk management practices were identified. By failing to take the necessary precautions, your organization may assume more risk. Accordingly, your organization should follow the guidelines provided by the CDC, OSHA, and the Department of Labor to the best of its ability.
How to implement a risk management plan?
There is not enough emphasis that can be placed on the importance of implementing and enforcing risk management policies. To create an effective risk management policy, incorporate the following steps:
- Establish a risk management team
- Identify the risk for your respective business. For example, what are common surfaces controlled by your office, which are touched by your employees, clients, and customers – pens, credit card machines, or areas with heavy public traffic
- Evaluate risk: low risks vs. high risks
- Control Risk: assess measures to mitigate occurrences such as barrier between customers and clients, single-use tools, social distancing, waivers, agreements, and insurance
- Adapt and Review: Your risk management team should revisit its practices (steps 2-4) periodically
COVID-19 Risk Management Steps
Below are some steps your organization can take to mitigate the exposure of COVID-19 transmission on your premises.
- Establish a uniform screening standard for employees and volunteers arriving at your premises or during operational hours as needed (e.g., temperature check and symptom screening).
- Maintain uniform records of all screenings performed.
- Inform all employees and volunteers about standards as they change due to governmental sources or internal policies.
- Keep public notices of required client and vendor behaviors current and visible.
- Convey any suspected cases to the local health department, log guidance received, and document all communication.
- Review your lease agreements and inquire what precautions your building is putting in place concerning the common spaces, hallways, doors, bathrooms.
The list is not exhaustive of the steps your organization should take to mitigate risk. Your risk manager and counsel should review with your policies to ensure with the continually changing guidelines.
What does this mean for my Insurance Policy?
Many of our clients have asked about insurance ramifications for COVID-19 related claims.
There are several types of policies that may be triggered, including general liability, workers’ compensation, and employment practices liability.
General liability may be triggered if a member of the public, client, or customer comes on to your premises and alleges that they contracted COVID-19.
Workers’ compensation may be triggered by an employee who alleges that they contacted coronavirus at work. Moreover, the Governor’s recent order has changed the burden concerning coronavirus claims. Please see our past article on this matter.
Employment Practice Liability may be triggered by an employee who alleges wrongful termination for a discriminatory reason during the pandemic or that after contracting COVID was not properly accommodated.
These are straightforward examples of potential coronavirus claims. There are, of course, other complicated claims/scenarios that may arise from coronavirus claims. Therefore, it is essential to work with counsel and a risk manager to implement safety proactively.
Insurance should be considered part of your risk management plan. Review the terms, conditions, and exclusions listed in your General Liability Insurance policy with your employment attorney and insurance broker to identify any gaps in coverage.
Let us know if you have any questions. We can also provide you with a quote for general liability, workers’ compensation, or employment practice liability insurance at no cost. During this uncertain time, we are here to help you with your insurance needs. Stay Safe!
This article is intended to be used for informational purposes only and not to be construed as legal advice.