It has been months since Covid-19 started to loom over the world. During this period, we have seen numerous new situations arise that would have otherwise been irrelevant during a non-pandemic time. One of these situations that is particularly relevant to the nature of construction is Covid-19 liability.
On July 27, 2020, the US Senate introduced the Safe to Work Act which protects employers from liability due to potential or actual coronavirus exposure of their employees. In short, the act seeks to limit the ability of an employee to blame their employer if they believe they are contracting Covid-19 or were exposed to Covid-19 while at work.
Similarly, Minnesota has pending liability legislation that would stifle such claims towards employers. This bill states that the property owner is not obligated nor has the responsibility to protect those on the property from Covid-19. Additionally, if the business is following the recommended guidelines and complying with safety precautions, it eliminates the employer’s liability.
While the Safe to Work Act and Minnesota’s legislation is meant to protect businesses, including construction contractors, they still need to implement precautionary measures. The liability legislation reduces the risk of fault, but it does not completely eradicate it.
In fact, as of August 3, 2020, “OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] has received a total of 28,276 COVID-19 related complaints, 7,526 at the federal level and 20,750 at the state level. To date 19,593 have been closed and 8,683 remain open.” Employer liability claims and cases are still being generated and examined which shows how critical it is for your company to take necessary steps for protecting both your business and your employees.
The process of complying with the ever-developing laws and policies may seem like a daunting undertaking, although the reward is knowing your business is effectively positioned against potential liability and compensation claims. Some ways to begin are creating a preparedness plan, adhering to the mask mandate, and following the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Implementing relatively simple plans and procedures for your business can significantly safeguard your business. Minnesota Construction Law Services can help you navigate these laws and policies to execute necessary precautions. We have become experts in this area so you don’t have to. Contact us to continue/further protecting your business!
Learn more about this topic by reading the update, “A short review of federal and Minnesota legislative proposals,” by Courtney Ernston, MNCLS attorney.