Now, going back to the legal term of respondeat superior, you as the employer are responsible for what happens — on or off the clock — if someone is using a tool supplied by you. That tool may even be as harmless as a cell phone. Lawyers, of course, are well aware of this fact and are looking for accidents involving cell phones.
So, how does one stay clear from issues such as these? To start, it requires well thought out policies like instituting a cell phone policy. In some states it is illegal to use a cell phone at all while you are driving. Be sure employees obey this law both for business calls as well as personal calls.
Next, organize a meeting with those that have cell phones explaining the dangers involved in its use while driving and the possible consequences of an accident while using them.
And, as in the examples provided, liability is certainly not limited to cell phone use. Any behavior that may potentially put the company in a liability position should be expressly addressed with employees and included in employee policy. Additionally, these policies should be reviewed and updated as situations arise or change.
Some things in life just can’t be avoided. We need cars and cell phones to operate our business. But if you find yourself in a legal situation involving liability, the courts may look upon you more favorably if you have some responsible policies in effect.
So make sure you tell Everybody that Anybody can sue Somebody if Nobody takes steps to prevent it.
About the author: Jon Olson is the production and operations manager for Sterling Surfaces in Sterling, Mass. He has been a solid surface fabricator since 1982 and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.