By Nai Kanell
Vice President of Marketing
Whether your workplace is essential or is only now resuming operation after a state-mandated shutdown, workplace concerns about coronavirus remain high. The more in-house employees you have, the more concern there is about transmission. For employers and employees alike, this concern is valid. It’s why every workplace needs clear protocols for COVID-19 workplace health screening.
The good news is screening employees for coronavirus is as simple as asking a few questions. We know enough about the virus and its symptoms to make smart decisions when welcoming employees back to the workplace… or asking them to stay home. Use the following questions to put together a simple, yet effective, self-screening process to protect your workplace and employees. Use this screening process every day—regardless of how many employees you’re welcoming back to work.
In the past 24 hours, have you experienced X?
Hallmark symptoms of coronavirus are easy to spot—especially when they occur in tandem. Ask employees to perform a self-check before they come to work each day and gauge a yes or no answer about any of the following symptoms:
- A fever of 100°F or higher
- A subjective fever (felt feverish)
- Cough (excluding known conditions like COPD)
- Shortness of breath (excluding known conditions like asthma)
- Sore or swollen throat
- Muscle or body aches
- Anosmia (loss of smell)
If they’ve developed any of these symptoms within the last 24 hours, urge employees to stay home. Fever, combined with throat tightness or trouble breathing, warrants immediate medical attention. Instruct employees to visit their primary care physician as soon as possible and stay isolated until they can.
As you ask employees to assess themselves each day, also be aware of psychosomatic symptoms. There’s a difference between general lethargy on a Monday and feeling feverish. Encourage employees to assess their symptoms through a quantifiable lens—use a thermometer, document a cough, feel swollen glands, etc. If they feel symptoms warrant staying home, make sure they seek medical attention. Employers need to trust employees to act in the best interests of their health and the health of others.
What’s your current temperature?
The simplest way to make a decision about coming into work is for employees to take their temperature each day. A normal range is anything less than 100°F; above 100°F is cause for concern. Use this threshold as a clear decision-maker for whether to come to work or stay home.
Advise employees on how to properly take their temperature, and to take multiple readings for accuracy. Both oral and ear thermometers are acceptable methods of gauging temperature. Provide simple instructions for both.
- Wait at least 30 minutes after eating or drinking to take temperature
- Insert thermometer into ear or place under the tongue
- Wait until thermometer beeps with a clear reading
- Record temperature, wait two minutes, then repeat
- Repeat 2-3 times to get an accurate reading
Employees don’t need to provide any record or log of their temperature for employers. They should simply be aware that feverish readings are cause to stay home and, if temperatures reach 102°F or more, they should seek medical attention.
Have you traveled recently?
With current travel restrictions and state lockdowns, this question is easy for many to answer. It’s unlikely they’ve traveled within the country, let alone internationally. That said, international travel for work is required of some individuals. If your company has any employees traveling abroad, this question becomes pertinent.
In accordance with CDC guidelines, anyone returning from international travel should self-quarantine for 14 days. This includes routine temperature checks. It’s best for employers to mandate work-from-home for these individuals, regardless of how they feel.
Have you had contact with anyone who tested positive for COVID-19?
Employees should avoid coming to work if they’ve had contact with anyone who’s tested positive for COVID-19—even if they themselves don’t test positive. As researchers learn more about the virus’s incubation period, it’s recommended you treat possible transmission like a positive diagnosis until proven otherwise by time. Tests can yield false negatives.
Before returning to work, employees should be at least 72 hours removed from contact, with multiple negative tests, and no symptoms. Many employers will want to wait a full week to be absolutely sure.
Simple questions lead to important answers
As they answer these self-screening questions before work each day, employees will feel a sense of calm. Not only will a self-screening reassure them of their own health, it shows them you as an employer have a preventive mindset.
In addition to self-screening protocols, be sure to create processes for employees who answer “yes” to any of the screening questions. Whether it’s a remote work arrangement or paid time off through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), next steps should be clear and decisive. This proactive stance will keep your workplace safe and your employees calm and confident.
Keep Reading: SpaceIQ’s COVID-19 Resource Page