Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Mary Leigh Pirtle offered insights on the workplace safety orders issued by state and federal agencies as many employees start the return to work following the COVID-19 pandemic. While these orders serve as helpful guidance on how to businesses can safely reopen, many are also questioning the liability risk that comes with reopening a workplace. As Mary Leigh points out, “The biggest issue is that it’s unclear at this point whether an employer can be held liable to employees who become sick. … Obviously this is an evolving situation. We’re learning new aspects about the virus every day and its transmission so the safety protocols considered best practices today might be outdated a few months from now.”
While the guidelines are helpful, Mary Leigh advises that “It’s really up to the employers to figure out what’s appropriate for their companies. It’s taking all of that, the totality of those guidelines, and figuring out what’s applicable to each company’s workplace and what they can reasonably do.” Mary Leigh is advising her clients to proactively develop policies and educate their staff on those policies, rather than wait for employees to request safety protections, she said in the article.
The full article, “Reopening Businesses Face State Virus Workplace-Safety Orders,” was published by Bloomberg Law on April 30 and is available online.