As companies get back to business after the COVID-19 lockdown, they’re focused on the three “Rs:” reopening, rebuilding and rebounding. At every stage in this journey, ensuring the health and safety of employees is an obvious priority. However, there may be lesser-known risks and considerations that businesses need to be mindful of, whether they’re restarting manufacturing operations or transitioning back to the office.
Gerry Lawrie, Underwriting Manager, Commercial Solutions at Sovereign Insurance, outlines some key considerations and best practices for businesses as they navigate the new risk landscape:
- Follow Health & Safety Guidelines: First and foremost, businesses need to review workplace health and safety guidelines from the federal, provincial and municipal governments, and ensure they’re compliant. These guidelines are updated as situations evolve, for example, if a region enters a new stage of reopening, or new information arises, so it’s important to stay on top of any changes.
- Respect Employee Privacy: As businesses reopen, there is an added responsibility to respect employee privacy as it pertains to their health information and personal lives. Business owners and leaders should read up on privacy guidance to protect their employees’ privacy and to minimize potential liabilities. This document on privacy and COVID-19 from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada is a great place to start.
- Safely Restart Equipment: If equipment has been dormant for a prolonged period of time and is not restarted properly, businesses run the risk of breakdowns. This can result in costly repairs, startup delays and safety hazards. Whether a company’s equipment has been lying idle for weeks or months, they must ensure that it’s fully inspected and restarted with the right procedures. Click here for helpful tips on how to safely restart equipment.
- Double Down On Cyber Security: While cyber risks aren’t new, there are reports that cyber attacks have increased during the pandemic, particularly as many companies transitioned to remote working.1 Now, as people are starting to return to the office, companies may see similar attacks, as bad actors take advantage of technical vulnerabilities.2 Companies should do security checkups on computers and systems that were left unattended during the lockdown. They may need to consider strengthening their security solutions and retrain employees on cybersecurity awareness.
- Refine Business Continuity Plan: An effective business continuity plan (BCP) outlines procedures and instructions companies must follow in the event of a major disruption, allowing them to quickly resume business functions. This would be a great time to determine where it fell short in the event of a future shutdown and implement any necessary changes in procedures. Consider these tips for developing a BCP.
- Recheck Insurance Policies: When the lockdown began, companies may have suspended certain coverages, for example, auto policies may have been suspended as trucks were taken off the road. Businesses that are reopening must reinstate any coverages that might have been suspended or cancelled, but are now needed. They might assume they’re covered when they restart their operations, and in the event of a claim, they may not be.
- Ensure Pivots Are Covered: If businesses change a service they provide, or pivot their production to manufacture and/or distribute new products, they must find out how that affects their insurance coverage. Products such as face shields, for example, are considered a medical device and manufacturers must follow stringent controls. This creates fundamental changes in their risk profile. It’s vital for companies to stay in communication with their brokers to ensure they have the right coverage. If your business is considering changing its operations as a call to action against COVID-19, consider this helpful checklist to help you think through some key considerations.
No matter what business or stage of reopening you’re in, we encourage you to incorporate the takeaways above into your reopening plan. Some basic planning can go a long way to help make the process a little smoother. Check out this checklist to help you create a solid plan before reopening your doors
1 PwC, “How to protect your companies from rising cyber attacks and fraud amid the COVID-19 outbreak.”
2 CPO Magazine, “Office reopening and it’s time to head back in? How smart forethought can improve cybersecurity when reopening office,” June 25, 2020.