Workplace Safety & COVID-19: Know Your Responsibilities

masked male and female workers on construction site

COVID-19 has changed the way employers do business and the environment in which work is done. Minimize related risk and maximize workplace safety with these tips.

As businesses reopen or remain open during the COVID-19 global health event, new safety and risk concerns have arisen for both employers and employees – no matter the size of the organization or worksite.

Workplace Safety

Safety in the workplace begins with an effective plan driven by clear employer and employee protocols. "The plan should closely follow CDC and OSHA guidance," said Jim Stansbury, a corporate risk and safety consultant at ADP.

"Employers should perform a hazard assessment of the workplace … [to] help determine high hazard areas. In fact, it is not uncommon for employers to be required to have an infectious disease plan," said Stansbury.

Gabriel Petre, a 25-year veteran of workers' compensation insurance claims adjustment and management, now with ADP, said a written COVID-related workplace safety plan should be energized by employee communication.

"It's a best practice to consider meeting with employees to explain the new rules and answer any questions they might have. Make sure every employee understands these new rules are designed to protect them," Petre said.

Employer Risk

Employers should be aware of important new trends regarding COVID-19 and workers' compensation claims – especially if an employee tests positive for the virus.

"Prior to COVID-19, workers' compensation claims for communicable diseases were rare," Petre said. "However, several states, through new executive orders and legislation, have created an exception for COVID-19 that reversed the legal burden for communicable diseases. Now the burden is on the employer and/or insurance company to prove that the employee did not contract the virus at work."

Learn more in this HR{preneur} podcast episode: Workplace Safety & COVID-19: What Are Your Responsibilities?