Should companies outsource their COVID-19 screening process or keep it in house?
Over the past week, this has been a common theme asked by customers and so the following information is aimed at helping you make this decision.
We have all heard about Qantas baggage handlers contracting COVID-19, reminding us of how contagious this virus is! Amazingly however, some companies still think it's ok to give a front-line worker a touchless thermometer, no training, no PPE, no protocols and expect to keep this virus out of the workplace.
Screening for COVID-19 in the workplace can be an effective measure in protecting employees from infection, especially cluster outbreaks but it's not all about taking someone's temperature. Companies need to own the process regardless of what direction they choose.
In recent weeks, l have seen best case and worst case examples. Those companies that are getting it right are invested in understanding the screening process including the risks and limitations.
The correct approach to screening must include a mix of technology, people and procedural protocols to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection in the workplace. Getting this balance right is more important than whether you decide to outsource or keep in-house.
Public perception is another consideration for companies and how this may impact upon the brand. Back to QANTAS, how does this headline transfer to the likes of a food manufacturer, mining company or commercial enterprise when a cluster outbreak occurs. Regardless of the facts, people will now associate COVID-19 with baggage handling, and along with cruise ships, weddings and international travel, associate risk and feel a sense of unease.
Have no doubt, the public will always question, what did a company do to limit exposure for its employees? So here are some questions worth considering in the decision journey:
- Do we understand all the risks?
- Do we have the knowledge and resources?
- Have we implemented training for people conducting screening?
- Are there established procedures and protocols in place?
- Do we restrict and scope interactions of screening personnel?
- Have we the appropriate technology, PPE and hygiene measures?
- What's the escalation if screening people are infected?
- What's the consequential impact of an infection?
- Are we prepared to put/replace an employee on the front-line?
Ultimately it makes sense to outsource the screening process not putting your own people at risk. Employee unions may also resist their members being placed on the front-line. Outsourcing may also help insulate you from headlines if an outbreak occurs. Remember to be actively involved in the process and understand the risks. Those tasked with front-line screening may help protect you, but equally, they may infect you if correct risk mitigation strategies are neglected.