A business is responsible for the safety and well-being of its customers. The responsibility does not end by supplying goods that are safe and defect-free. It also includes premises liability, which makes your business liable if a customer gets injured due to unsafe conditions on the premises. The COVID situation has suddenly changed the dynamics of premises liability and it includes a lot more than wet floors, broken tiles, and unsafe elevators today. Right now, as businesses reopen amid the pandemic, it covers on-site COVID-19 contamination as the top priority. At the same time, they should also have a plan to mitigate the risk of such cases. Here are some steps that can help you with premises liability risk mitigation in the pandemic era.
Adhere to government guidelines
Essentially, you should do everything possible to implement all the health and safety measures recommended by the authorities for protecting themselves against potential premises liability claims. Right now, it is important to develop COVID-19 protocols that comply with government orders and CDC guidelines. Identify a person at your facility for putting the plan into action. This person would also be responsible for updating the protocols according to the frequently changing directives.
Train employees on safety and hygiene
While fixing responsibility for implementing the protocols is important, you need to make sure that it is adopted at the ground level. This requires a well-managed training program that educates the employees about the basics like social distancing, hand hygiene, and other safety guidelines and well as the company-specific protocols. Healthy employees mean better business and a safer workplace, which cuts down the risk of premises liability lawsuits as well.
Consider having a liability waiver
If you want to go the extra mile with liability protection, having the invitees sign a liability waiver before entering the premises is a good idea. Obviously, this waiver would clear your liability, in which a customer is injured on another person’s property can impose otherwise. Basically, it would include the invitee’s agreement to assume the risks related to COVID-19- as a condition for entering the premises. Further, you may add an acknowledgment of the precautions being taken and a warning that there can still be some risks despite the measures.
Keep records of the measures
Apart from taking the relevant precautions and preventative measures, you also need to preserve detailed records of their implementation. Cover details such as when, why and how you implemented such measures in your facility. Also, keep a note of the incidents of COVID-19 contamination, if any, and the measures you took for addressing them. Such measures could range from temporarily shutting down specific areas and complete sanitation before reopening. These records are important as they can serve as valid evidence if you face a lawsuit at any point in time.
COVID-related business premises liability is a serious concern, considering the gravity of the prevailing situation. Since the pandemic seems to be here for some time ahead, it is vital to take the right mitigation measures at the earliest.