Implementing newly minted COVID-19 safety protocols from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration could provide legal cover for Louisiana oil and gas companies in defending against claims for liability for injury or death resulting from exposure to COVID-19 during business operations, according to three Baker Donelson attorneys.
An advisory authored by Baker Donelson shareholders Jennifer Anderson, Kenneth Klemm and Adam Zuckerman suggests that though “some of the guidelines may be impractical to implement, oil and gas industry participants may wish to consider whether to implement the guidelines, in whole or part, through use of policies, signage and other methods to inform workers of these practices and procedures.”
In early June, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law House Bill 826, which grants liability protections for businesses from claims brought by both customers and employees related to COVID-19 exposure.
The law deems that companies are not liable for COVID-19 exposure damages unless they fail to “substantially comply with the applicable COVID-19 procedures established by the federal, state or local agency which governs the business,” and are guilty of negligence or misconduct.