COVID-19 has already had a lasting impact on the ways businesses operate such as businesses moving away from traditional office spaces, work hours shifting, adoption of virtual work tools, etc. While overall COVID cases have started to lower in the US, experts fear the increase in new strains will leave millions of more people infected. These new strains from the UK, South Africa and Brazil create a serious problem as some are more transmissible than previous strains as well as more deadly. A study from the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) has found that one COVID strain may be up to 70 percent deadlier than previous coronavirus variants. Despite some of the gloom news, there are still ways businesses can be prepared to enter the next phase of the COVID-19 epidemic.
Similar to how 9-11 forever changed how US travelers checked in, businesses now need to adapt and create new screening methods prior to the start of every work day to ensure a healthy workforce as well as a data trail for contact tracing whenever an employee does being showing symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19. Many businesses still solely rely on signs posted to tell employees to watch out for symptoms, however signs by themselves are not enough to enforce adherence. Furthermore, many businesses still opt to use paper and pen logging because of the perceived low cost and ease of use. When talking to companies that use paper and pen systems issues arise such as:
which all lead to difficult time contact tracing back to see when employees checked-in and what they screened for.
While each state has their own specifications, we recommend setting up an app based questionnaire based on CDC guidelines that every single employee needs to complete prior to entering the workplace. In addition to a questionnaire, a temperature check should be completed upon completion of survey. Business logic should be set up such that anytime an employee fails symptom or temperature check a supervisor is alerted in real-time to minimize exposure. Examples of questions to ask in an app based questionnaire can be found here.
Some companies look to hire contractors or have their own supervisors perform temperature screening however, this is both a costly line item as well as putting more employees at risk by standing in close proximity to each other. At one regional grocery store, every 10 minutes an employee comes to check in where a supervisor must be present to clear their check-in. Without using an automated check-in system, the grocery store needs to have 144 check points to help clear all their employees every day and allocate over $2160 per month on paper check in's.
Inevitably, the greatest threat to spreading COVID-19 are asymptomatic carriers that can spread the virus without showing symptoms. An analysis of multiple studies in the jounraal, PLOS Medicine, found that approximately 20-to-30% people infected with SARS-CoV-2 remained asymptomatic throughout the course of their infecti
Some of the most effective ways to reduce the spread are correct mask wearing (wearing the mask above the nose and all the way down around the chin) and washing hands (vigorously for 20 seconds as if you just got hot peppers on your hands).
In addition, implementing scheduled COVID testing is highly recommended for employees that have exposure to large populations or at-risk populations such as nursing homes. MIT Medical recommends isolating for 10 days after a positive COVID test.
Documenting results can also help prevent any unnecessary testing as in some instances of miscommunication an employee went ahead and got testing for COVID within a few days of each other only to result in a still positive test taking them out of the workforce for a longer amount of time than needed. This documentation should be considered as part of a company's overall health check-in plans.
The trickiest part is making sure a company's executive leadership team are on the same page. Especially with larger organization where they are Safety, HR, Operations and other groups vying for different interests it can be chaotic when deciding to implement an automated check-in program. Operations need to be on the same page to ensure that everyone checking in is cleared for work and enforces check in. Alternatively check points can be set up where employees can only enter the facility or being their day when they have scanned a QR code they receive only after clearing check in. VIT can help your organization walk through the pro's and con's of different solutions, implementation strategies and how to hold your workforce accountable for their daily health pre-checks.
While this option is not feasible for all work such as the grocery chain mentioned above, staying home is still the best form of social distance engineering. Staying home can be difficult though as Psychology Today outlines 5 challenges of staying home and things you can do about it: link here.
Getting an automated health pre-check doesn't have to be difficult or expensive. VIT can help set up a custom health screening solution for your employees as part of their new daily health pre-checks for little cost and quick turnaround within a day. Try it out for free by booking a meeting below!