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Train Crashes, Workplace Cleanliness And Business Liability – It’s All About The Records

Can you be sued if someone gets COVID-19 on your premises? How will you manage changes to your health policies? And how will all of this affect your cleaning efforts?

When thinking about these questions, a somewhat random customer story comes to mind. 

A grader belonging to one of our regional council clients attempted to cross a railway line, stalled and got smashed by a wheat train.  Fortunately, no one was injured, but it was a close call for all concerned!  

Given the damage and potential for loss of life, a formal investigation took place. Thanks to their meticulous logs (including photos and checklists captured via their Appenate app), the council was able to show that they always followed the correct procedures and weren’t at fault.

Here’s the thing – when something bad happens during the course of business, the aftermath almost always boils down to proving your team followed correct practices.  Whether it’s a train wrecking a grader or an employee falling ill at work, solid documentation is the best way to rule out your liability and learn from the incident.

COVID-19 And The Need For Workplace Cleanliness

Liability aside, we want to prevent a second wave of the pandemic, don’t we? To do so, we’ll have to place immense focus on workplace cleanliness. 

As more companies return to work and rebuild their business, the focus should remain on eliminating the chance of spread. The CDC has a great guide on how to “de-COVID” your facilities. You find that here

Make sure to give your cleaning checklist a good overhaul. Join the fight against COVID-19 and let’s prevent a return of world-wide lockdowns. 

On to the next question… how has COVID-19 affected your policies? And how long did it take you to communicate changes to those policies?

Agile Cleaning & Health Policies

Many of us have had to make cleaning and health policy changes at an impossibly rapid rate recently.

This helped us realise just how slow this process can be. Any time a policy changes, there’s discussion and eventual agreement – that’s unavoidable. The problem is, once the changes are made, how long does it take to communicate them to the staff? 

What if we’re faced with an even more dangerous pandemic in the future? Rapid channels of communication will be critical for communicating these changes.

The ideal would be a central document storage solution – something which Appenate can help with. There are plenty of other options too. Appenate, however, can also help communicate those changes to all the relevant stakeholders.

Simply create a task for managers to review and communicate the policies with employees. Capture the signatures, and you’ve not only got rapid communication but proof of it too. Which comes back to having solid documentation in case anything happens.

If you’re already using Appenate, it’s a good idea to make use of this functionality. Just get in touch with our customer success team, who will be more than happy to help you set this up.

Else grab a free trial from here. 

Limiting liability in the workplace

The big question is… can you be held liable if an employee catches the Coronavirus on your watch? Forbes has a helpful article on it here from the US market. In summary, the US is rapidly trying to limit the liability for companies. 

But it’s on a state-by-state basis. So if you’re in the US, keep a close eye on local legislation. 

It’s pretty obvious that employers should care for their employees regardless of legislation. The thing is, there’s only so much an employer can do.

Businesses are likely to run into plenty of extra cleaning expenses as we continue with our new normal. These expenses won’t go anywhere in a hurry either – COVID-19’s going to be around for a while. 

So whether you can be held liable or not, just make sure you keep your records regarding workplace cleanliness handy. 

If you can prove you’ve done everything in your power to limit the spread of COVID-19 within your company, your chance of losing any sort of legal battle drops dramatically.

So while you’re doing all you can to prevent the spread of this disease between your ranks, remember to capture proof of your efforts. Perhaps a digital cleaning checklist or disinfecting schedule? 

Maybe even a personal liability waiver? To be filled and signed before entry to the premises is allowed. Perhaps in a mobile form a day before the visit, to limit touch even more?

Both can be created and captured with Appenate. Contact our customer success team if you need help with this. 

Keeping Your Information Centralised

OSHA USA has created a nice little booklet we can follow in regards to workplace health and safety in the COVID era. 

You can find that here.

But various governments have also released their own versions of checklists in regards to who should be tested. 

Australia has the symptoms checker. The USA has the self-checker

These are fine for when you’re working from home. But if your employees are coming into the office, something more centralised is probably a good idea. Something HIPAA compliant, perhaps? 

We have a ready-to-go employee screening app which you can use with Appenate right away. Not only do you get to see your employee’s systems, but you also get to keep track of everything – as the data is captured and can be pulled into easy reports. 

You can try it out by signing up for an account. And if you’d like to find out more, read our post about coming back stronger here. 

Let’s Stay Optimistic

It’s been a tough year. COVID-19 has crushed a lot of businesses and dreams. Not to mention it’s placed a premium on workplace cleanliness and cleaning costs are skyrocketing.

But on the bright side, there’s light at the end of the tunnel – we just need to stay positive and keep soldiering on.

Got any stories of strange workplace accidents that had happy endings?  Let us know in the comments down below!