How to safely re-open your business during COVID-19
As the Ontario government continues to open up the economy in staged phases, many businesses are looking for advice on how to re-open safely.
Insurance Jack and Petley-Hare consistently engage in these discussions with our clients and customers.
Firstly, re-opening businesses during COVID-19 will elevate risks for companies wishing to re-open their offices. There are two fundamental things to look at — workplace employee safety and how the business will keep them safe.
Most businesses will not want to run the risk of a lawsuit if they cannot prove their business is safe, the business may also have a legal responsibility to provide a safe workplace.
Employers need to make sure they are doing the right things. Things like having sufficient cleaning protocols, proper physical distancing measures, safety screens in place, PPE, etc.
The three main aspects of safety
- Local health and safety. Check out information fact sheets that go over regulations and guidelines established by local public health authorities in their region. Need assistance? We can help refer you to these regulations.
- Listen to your employees. It’s important for an employer to have open communication with employees. Have them share feedback on their situation — the way they are living, concerns about COVID-19, working-from-home, etc. If the company is committed to change, it’s important for employees to share their comments.
- Insurance. Once employee safety has been looked after, employers will need to ensure the proper insurance is in place.
If office changes have been made, are modifications or amendments to the insurance policy needed to reflect the new workplace environment?
Even if a business puts the best safety protections and controls in place but has an employee gets sick with COVID-19, does the business have the proper insurance to respond?
While a pandemic is generally not covered in business interruption policies, the policy wording will be key. Liability is another aspect of coverage that an insurance policy might address.
If a business conducts work in a building where there is minimal public interaction, public safety is still something that needs to be addressed. Above all, insurance will play a key role because re-opening during a pandemic could create liability for third parties, the public.