Screening for Covid-19 in the workplace.

Testing COVID-19

 

We have all seen the pictures and telecasts of people at airports being temperature-checked to curb the spread of Covid-19. But does temperature checking work and should we use this as a frontline measure in our workplaces?

 

The answer is yes and no!

 

Temperature checking can be effective, but there are variables which render the outcomes inconsistent, including equipment and screening protocols. Nor does it identify asymptomatic carriers.

 

Another concern is false-negative readings which can potentially mean you are sending the fox well and truly into the chicken house.

 

So what benefits does temperature checking bring to the workplace you may ask?

 

Temperature checking should be only one of the precautionary measures to screen employees entering the workplace. More importantly, screening allows for observation, information exchange, and education as part of the whole process and this is the big-ticket when it comes to limiting the spread of COVID-19.

 

Do your protocols support the overall process? Are you gathering information about the person being screened? For example, do they look sick, do they feel sick or have any symptoms, have they been in contact with people who are in any of the high-risk categories (recently returned from overseas, been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19)

 

Your screening process also provides an opportunity to educate workers, visitors and contractors on the importance of hygiene and social distancing protocols now required within the workplace.

 

So if you decide to implement temperature checking at your workplace, here are some things you will need to do.

 

  1. Give employees as much notice as possible before implementing screening
  2. Make sure you implement correct protocols for testing
  3. Ensure procedures for stand-down isolation have been communicated
  4. Two-stage testing from Non-Negative result should include a core-temperature reading
  5. Regularly check the calibration of instruments 
  6. Ensure screening process includes observation and education
  7. Provide proper training for those conducting the screening process
  8. Provide appropriate PPE for those conducting the screening

 

In the past weeks, we have had an upsurge in customer enquires about this process. Customers want to protect the health and wellbeing of staff, employees, and the ongoing running of what is now deemed an essential operation. Some customers have utilised existing security personnel and emergency response officers to enforce testing. Others have identified this as a separate function carried out by independent screening.

 

Either way, the effectiveness of any screening will be determined by understanding the process and correct use and knowledge of the equipment used, including its limitations.

By following the recommendations above, there is absolute value in temperature checking of employees in your workplace, but only if concurrently supported with strong protocols, training and information gathering.

 

Remember to always wash hands regularly, use hand sanitisers, keep hands away from face and eyes, practice social distancing and if you are unwell let people know and stay home and/or see your doctor.

 

We offer workplace screening services for COVID-19 to ensure the health and wellbeing of your staff. If you need further help or wish to roll out screening processes in your workplace, please don’t hesitate in contacting us at Risk Response + Rescue 13 000 RESCUE or email us at info@riskresponse.edu.au.