Risk acknowledgement and health mandates

It's become increasingly common for HR to ask employees to sign “risk acknowledgement forms.” These documents serve to warn employees that - while their employer is taking every reasonable measure to protect employees from illness during the global health crisis- there is still a non-negligible risk to entering any space where human traffic occurs.

Moreover, these forms may reemphasize the impossibility of warning employees of every possible risk of COVID-19, given that scientific understanding of the virus is consistently evolving

In theory, risk acknowledgment forms are meant to indemnify the employer from legal responsibility, should employees become sick due to exposure on company premises.However, in practice, these exculpatory clauses are vulnerable to all kinds of legal challenges.

A better way for HR to reduce employers’ liability is to ensure not only that the company is following health experts’ recommended best practices for safety during the pandemic, but also that employees are mandated to follow rigorous company safety policies such as health screenings, mask-wearing, hygiene, social distancing, and reduced building occupancy.

With [COVID-19], Proxyclick’s customer support guided us through the custom screens process to enable us to ask the questions we were looking for to keep our associates safe.

Senior Human Resources Manager, Automotive - 501-1000 employees

Tracing and notification

What if, despite every reasonable and practicable effort by a company to protect employees having been made, an exposure incident still occurs (or appears to have likely occurred) on company premises?

Even if the perceived risk of such an event is negligible, companies still need to be prepared to handle such an event. Therefore, it’s imperative that HR personnel work with company leaders to develop a plan of action.

Protocols for contact tracing and rapid notification should involve looking at the “exposure event” closely, and then taking several steps:

  • quickly identifying other employees or visitors who may have been exposed (given the dates, times, and locations they were in the building). Here, understanding employee or visitor presence is key - it's important to know not just that they were booked to arrive on a given day, but that they were actually physically present, because they checked in.
  • quickly aggregating contact information for these individuals, and,
  • performing outreach to sensitively and clearly let them know of their risks.

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