A recent article from the UK reminded me of the responsibility practices have when employees get behind the wheel.
Some time ago I was working with a practice and was astonished to learn that they were having one of their employees putting the container with medical waste in their car, and the employee was driving to the disposal location. I could picture the car being rear-ended, medical debris all over the ground, the HAZMAT team there, and the headlines.
This picture led to my next question – had anyone checked the driver’s licenses and driving records of these employees? Elizabeth Thomas, a healthcare attorney with Nelson Mullins in Charleston, points out that employers have a responsibilityfor the actions of their employees when they are acting as an agent for the business, such as driving. My argument was that when an employee is working for us, they represent us, including the time they are behind the wheel, even their own vehicle. For any employee who will be driving a vehicle, whether their own or the practice’s, have your insurance agent run a check on their driving record. In some areas, these records are available online. If the employee is using their own car and simply running routine local trips, their insurance is primary. Attorney Thomas has employer clients who require employees driving their own vehicles to have a certain level of insurance coverage (which in some states means having coverage in the first place!) to limit the exposure of the company. Regardless, employers still need to make sure that they are protected and should cover these situations part of their overall insurance coverage.
In the medical waste case above, the practice switched to a licensed and bonded hazardous waste disposal company. On an ongoing, annual basis, check the driver’s license and state report on your employees who drive for you, and ask for some proof of insurance for your records. Work with your insurance agent on this, to make sure that you have the coverage you need, your employees have the coverage they need, and you’ve made a reasonable attempt to avoid using drivers with poor records.