Mitigating Litigation Risk During a Pandemic
Businesses are reopening and leaders are wondering (and worrying) what one can do to alleviate or mitigate COVID-19 litigation. Here are nine easy steps to get started.
- Follow government dictates regarding approval to reopen the business.
- Executive orders - https://governor.sc.gov/
- Judicial orders - https://www.sccourts.org/
- County or Municipal orders
- Know and share with staff current safe operating guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, (OSHA), your state department of labor and/or local authorities. These standards are commonly available online.
- Know the type and level of PPE your employees should be utilizing. https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/
Lawsuits alleging failure to provide proper PPE have become a litigation hotbed throughout the country during the pandemic.
- Depending on the type of business: Establish uniform screening standards for employees arriving for work or during work hours as warranted. Temperature, symptom screening and asking the employee of any health symptoms is a minimum.
- Process, process, process. Maintain uniform, easily accessible records of screening and any employee health incidents, the more detailed, the better. Having the records in digital format is ideal.
- Fluid situation: Communicate standards as they change either from government or organization sources. Ensure uniform communication and keep records of those communication.
- Communicate any suspected cases to the local health department, log any guidance received, and confirm communication to the employee.
- Keep records of vendor or independent contractor visits up to date. If you have a representative or independent contractor visit and have them sign your company waiver. Are you signing their waiver?
- Make sure your records are secure: Consider having a third-party expert assist with crafting a screening, communication and secure record-keeping program.
The take away here is to document your process, follow CDC and OSHA guidelines (your compliance may be a defense), and keep your information and records secure. If you would like more information, or to stay up to date on lawsuits filed around the country, email David Black at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Nexsen Pruet
Nexsen Pruet serves clients from nine offices across the Southeast. With more than 200 lawyers and professionals, the firm provides regional, full-service capabilities with international strengths.
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