The world began to change in January of 2020 as the novel coronavirus known now as COVID-19 began to appear in different corners of the world. As it spread to become the pandemic that we are all living with now, it has become apparent that health surveillance in the workplace – be it an office or a factory – needs to become active rather than passive. For most of us, having our temperature checked before we enter a building, or wearing personal protective equipment was not the norm. Now, it is uncommon to see someone not wearing a mask on their face, or a pair of surgical gloves, while out and about. Within the workplace, health surveillance itself has had to either be put in place or amended to reflect the known symptoms of COVID-19. Here are three ways your workplace can perform health surveillance in an effective manner that will keep employees as safe as possible.
1. Daily Symptom Checker Forms
For office workers, typically you would head into the office, seat yourself at your desk, switch on your computer, and possibly chat with your neighbor as you prepare yourself for the tasks ahead. With most people now working from home, this is no longer the reality. However, some countries have begun to ease restrictions which means that some workers have been able to return to their offices. Just because workers can return to their offices doesn’t mean that everything is back to normal. Workers now need to be screened on a daily basis to ensure that they are not displaying symptoms of COVID-19. This can be performed via a simple questionnaire at the beginning of each shift or from home, preferably in a digital format so that the results can be logged and flagged if it seems that a worker may have contracted the virus.
2. Utilize Contact Tracing
If a worker is displaying symptoms of the virus the questionnaire will flag the employee via the health technology being used. From there, an organization can perform some basic contact tracing to see if other employees may have come into contact with the individual in question. Continual health surveillance is necessary because any employees that have come into contact with an employee who has a documented case of COVID-19 will need to self-quarantine from their families and their communities for 14 days to prevent any further transmissions. As employees who are unable to work may affect overall productivity, contingency plans need to be in place to make up for their workloads, and ensure that an organization or business continues to run at an optimal level.
3. Follow Up with Quarantined Employees
When a worker has contracted COVID-19, and is recovering from the virus it will be necessary for occupational health managers to follow-up with the worker who is on sick leave. Once more, the technology used to administer the symptom checks can also be used for patient follow-up. If a worker has tested negative or is no longer exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 for a period of time, it may be time for them to return to work. Recommendations may vary by geographical region and industry. In order to clear them, a variety of checks will need to be performed, and many of these can be done via technology rather than in-person.
Technology is the way of the future when it comes to pandemic planning, and any business or organization that wants to be prepared for the second wave of COVID-19, should make sure that they have the best for their sector.