With concerns about infectious disease going around, it’s more important than ever for employers to maintain a healthy work environment for their employees. There are many ways to accomplish this, but they all require diligent effort.
Workplace Wellness and Employer Liability
Before we get into the details on how to keep your work environment as healthy as possible, it’s worth noting where employers are liable when it comes to the health of their employees.
Illinois workers’ compensation law does prevent employees from suing their employers for occupational illness, but that doesn’t mean you’re completely off the hook. OSHA and other regulations require employers to pay fines if they are guilty of workplace hazards, including those that might unreasonably expose employees to disease.
In addition, employers must pay for workers’ compensation insurance, and if you have frequent instances of occupational illness in your business, those premiums may go up. From a monetary standpoint—and given that employers have an inherent duty to protect the health of their employees—it’s best to do whatever you can to keep your workers safe from disease.
Ways to Promote a Healthy Workplace
There are many things you can do to make your work environment a healthy place, including those described below.
Adhere to OSHA and other workplace safety regulations
One of the most important ways to uphold workplace safety and health while avoiding unnecessary risks is to adhere to OSHA and other regulations. Failure to do so not only puts your employees at risk for contracting infectious diseases, but it also opens your company up to hefty fines and a potentially crippling loss of reputation.
Encourage healthy practices
With both company culture and policies, you should encourage healthy practices. Proper sanitation and hygiene should be required at all times, especially in environments where your employees are in constant contact with customers, patients, or people in general. Rules, policies, and processes should be put into effect, and reminders, training, and visual aids (such as posters) can help solidify healthy practices among your workforce.
Provide adequate PPE
Some environments will inherently expose employees to illness. In those cases, adequate personal protective equipment (or PPE) should be provided, and employees should be required to use it whenever necessary.
Encourage sick employees to stay home
If employees fall ill, they should be encouraged to stay at home. That means making sure they don’t feel obligated to come into work for fear of losing benefits or facing penalties. Providing sufficient sick days and promoting a positive, health-oriented corporate culture can help you accomplish that.
It’s worth noting that having sick employees stay home is important to reducing employee absenteeism and minimizing liability. The healthier your workforce, the more reliable they’ll be.
Fulfilling Your Duty
In the end, it all comes down to fulfilling your duty as an employer, including your duty to your employees, your customers, and the public as a whole. Doing so will make sure your workforce is healthy and able to perform their duties reliably, and it can help improve your business as a whole.
When it comes to learning about your legal responsibilities as an employer, it may be worth speaking with an attorney. Hart David Carson LLP can help you establish sound company policies and minimize the risk of litigation against your company.