How to Screen Employees and What to Do With a Positive Screen
As coronavirus cases rise in at least 40 states, many governors have instituted executive orders requiring that businesses screen employees before they are approved to work.
Screening of employees prior to the work day is a strategy that employers can use to lessen the chance of allowing COVID-19 infected people into the workplace.
Screening will not identify people who have been exposed but are not yet showing symptoms (incubating) or who are infected but asymptomatic. Infection prevention in the workplace is an important component to prevent workplace transmission of COVID-19.
In July, some states mandated that every business must screen every employee every day with a minimum of 5 questions. When screening, employers should decide if they are going to dedicate an employee to perform this daily screening. (Keep in mind that this may mean exposing this employee to every employee at your company). Assess if this can this be done by utilizing an email or software survey to somehow document the fact you performed the daily screenings and your employees’ answers.
What to Consider About Daily Employee Screenings
Some additional questions about employee daily screens can be answered below:
Who should be screened?
Screen employees and visitors who enter the workplace. This does not include customers who are in a public-facing area (for example, restaurant or supermarket patrons).
When should a business screen employees and visitors?
Screen employees and visitors at the start of every shift or visit.
How should a business set up screening?
- If implementing in-person health checks, conduct them safely and respectfully. Employers may use social distancing, barriers or partition, or personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect the screener. However, reliance on PPE alone is a less effective control and is more difficult to implement, given PPE shortages and training requirements.
- Ensure any screening materials are provided in languages that employees understand.
- Complete the health checks in a way that helps maintain social distancing guidelines, such as providing multiple screening entries into the building.
- To prevent stigma and discrimination in the workplace, make employee health screenings as private as possible. Do not make determinations of risk based on race or country of origin and be sure to maintain confidentiality of everyone’s medical status and history.
- Follow guidance from the EEOC regarding confidentiality of medical records from health checks.
- Document these daily temperature, symptoms, and exposure checks.
Examples of Screening Questions that can be used.
- Have you had contact with anyone that you know has been diagnosed with COVID-19? Contact is defined as being within 6 feet (2 meters) for more than 15 minutes with a person, or having direct contact with infectious fluids from a person with confirmed COVID-19 (for example being coughed or sneezed on).
- Have you had a positive-COVID test for active virus in the past 10 days?
- Do you have of these symptoms that you cannot attribute to another condition?
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- Recent onset of loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Nausea or vomiting
What should a business do if an employee or answers “yes” to these questions?
If the answer is YES to any of these questions, employers should:
- Not let the staff or visitor enter the workplace.
- Immediately separate the employee from other people and arrange transport for home or to a medical facility if indicated.
- Strongly recommend timely testing. If they had close contact with a person with COVID-19, employees should be tested no sooner than 48 hours after exposure.
- If the employee dos not have a doctor or healthcare provider: free or low-cost testing is available at several locations to anyone, regardless of immigration status.
- Not have the employee return to work until the person completed their quarantine or isolation period. Certain essential workers may be allowed to work with specific restrictions.
Do You Need Human Resources Help with COVID-19?
MyHRConcierge offers human resources assistance for small and mid-size employers with the COVID-19 Support Package.