Businesses worldwide face challenges, including lawsuits, as they struggle with the way that the novel Coronavirus has disrupted their operations, supply chains, and workforces. The litigation wave is gaining momentum, and from the look of it, no industry is immune. With that in mind, we will examine some products to get you through COVID liability concerns in this article.
Employers across the country are facing lawsuits by Coronavirus victim and their families. These victims and their loved ones contend that workplaces failed to implement measures to ensure safety on the job. Meat processing plants, nursing homes, and cruise ship operators have been sued the most during the crisis. Other companies like Amazon, McDonalds, Safeway, and Walmart have also faced charges alleging they did not do enough to protect employees.
Of course, most employers argue that they have enforced all the recommended guidelines to ensure workplace safety. They have attempted to educate and promote good hygiene and infection control practices to prevent exposure on the job. Some even remark that it’s impossible to know where or how their staff contracted the virus, considering it is in the community.
But still, COVID-19 lawsuits are ripe, and employers ought to be careful. The last thing that one wants to deal with, on top of the thinning profit margins, is costly legal fees, among other expenses that a lawsuit attracts. Indeed, COVID-19 suits may not form the basis of personal injury cases. After all, the victim may not prove that the employer passed the infection to them. With the virus widespread in so many communities and easily transmitted, this level of proof is nearly impossible.
However, this doesn’t mean that employers won’t face the consequences if they act negligently or recklessly during the ongoing public health crisis. Bad choices during these times of declared emergencies can expose them to legal problems. To minimize the pandemic's impact on workers, businesses, customers, and the public, employers need to plan adequately and integrate effective products, some of which we will discuss in this article. Before we do that, let’s ensure that we are on the same page regarding COVID-19 in workplaces.
Workplace Coronavirus exposure
The COVID-19 virus is a respiratory illness that’s easily passed from person to person. The virus has spread quickly across the US, with 10.4 million cases and 244,044 deaths reported by November 9, 2020. Although many people have lost their jobs, some are left with no choice but to work amidst workplace COVID-19 exposure fears. Employees deserve protection from the virus at work. Employers are required to take measures to protect staff from potential exposures.
With that in mind, let’s now look at how you can protect your employees. We’ll do this by listing 6 products to get you through COVID liability.
1. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
PPE supplies are critical for preventing specific COVID-19 exposure – mainly when used alongside other prevention strategies that we’ll discuss in this article. Examples of PPE supplies are face shields, goggles, face masks, gloves, and respiratory protection. Recommendations for PPE specific to job or occupation may change based on current risk assessment for employees, geographical location, and information on its effectiveness in preventing the virus's spread.
As an employer, you should keep checking the CDC and OSHA websites for the latest recommendations of PPEs. In a nutshell, PPE supplies should be:
- Worn consistently and adequately when needed
- Maintained, inspected, and replaces as necessary
- Removed, cleaned, and disposed of/cleaned properly to avoid contamination
- Fitted and refitted as applicable (like respirators)
- Match the hazard to the employee or type of work
2. Disinfecting tunnels
Disinfecting tunnels (or sanitizing tunnels) are placed at the entrances and exits of commercial buildings to fog/spray sanitizer or disinfectant onto those entering or leaving the building. So, someone goes through a semi-enclosed area, pauses for several seconds for disinfection before entering the building.
The reasoning behind disinfecting tunnels is that, since the Coronavirus is a contagious illness, disinfecting a person’s clothes and body can protect them from contracting the virus. Spraying helps contain the pathogen’s spread.
There are many concerns about the effectiveness and safety of these tunnels. A WHO report even warned against their use because of the chemical disinfectants used. According to the report, spraying people with chlorine and other dangerous chemicals could lead to skin and eye irritation. Luckily, not all disinfecting tunnels are created equally. Some use a specially formulated solution that sanitizes individuals without affecting their physical or physiological health.
3. Sanitizing lighting
Sanitizing lighting is a great product that can help save you from potential COVID liability. It uses nanometer light to deactivate and destroy bacteria and other micro-organisms. The UVC lights (or LED in some cases) excites certain molecules in disease-causing micro-organism through photo-activation. This produces reactive oxygen species that destroy and kill the harmful cells.
UVC, a type of Ultraviolet light, is effective at killing viruses, including the SARS-CoV-2. A study by the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC) revealed that exposure to UVC light completely inactivated the Coronavirus in nine minutes.
4. COVID test kits
The COVID test kits allow you to perform routine internal Coronavirus testing. This means that your employees won’t have to go to the hospital to get their tests done. Having test kits handy can ensure that any case is discovered on time, thus avoiding further spread. This is especially critical during an emergency.
The good thing about COVID-19 test kits is that they are first, accurate, and convenient. You only need to be careful to find a trusted dealer – one who’s kits have Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), been independently validated, and with specificity and sensitivity of at least 95%.
5. Check-in kiosk
A check-in kiosk is a fully automated hands-free self-check kiosk designed to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. For instance, in an airport or booking office situation, the booth allows people to scan and print their tags without touching anything other than their phones. A self-service kiosk in any environment can minimize in-person interaction, lowering the risk of transmission of virus between employees and guests or patients.
Before the pandemic, clients would walk right to the reception or front desk. But this is considered a risky practice now. A check-in kiosk minimizes the risk by negating the person-to-person interaction. When a client walks in, their first stop becomes the kiosk. They can then scan their ID or insurance card or even update information like email, phone number, and address at the booth.
Installing a check-in kiosk is a great way to show your team and other related parties that you have strengthened your hygiene protocol. These kiosks also allow you to monitor everyone who enters the facility and ensure that the workplace remains COVID-19 free.
6. Wellness kits
Wellness kits provide your employees with items for well-being. The kits include hand sanitizer, face coverings, stress ball, sleep kit, and more. Note that these items may vary depending on where you got your kits from.
John is a highly respected and seasoned C-level sales, operations and general management executive, with decades of proven success in growing sales and profits while vastly improving operational disciplines.