June 9, 2020 (Irvine, CA) - When should employees who have had COVID-19 return to work? How can employees be screened for the virus in the workplace? What privacy guidelines apply?
Questions about workplace safety abound as businesses begin to re-open. The occupational health experts at ProCare Clinics have answers.
“Employers and office building landlords need to be thinking about re-opening in the context of safety for everyone,” said Greg Moore, CEO at ProCare, which operates occupational health clinics in Orange County. “Using your own staff for screening is very risky; they are not trained in areas like proper use of PPE and interviewing potentially infectious people, and involving them creates privacy concerns that need to be thought out. That’s why our expert occupational medical team at ProCare Clinics has stepped forward to provide these services and advice to employers in Orange County.”
Having professionals to manage the screening process ensures that safety, occupational health, and privacy concerns are appropriately handled.
Examples of decisions that need to be made and processes developed as businesses re-open include:
- How to test employees and how often.
- What questions to include in the screening survey.
- What to do if someone arrives and shows symptoms of the virus.
- How and when to determine if an employee who is asymptomatic should stay home and shelter in place. If that employee begins to show symptoms, they can be triaged and evaluated via ProCare’s telemedicine team.
- How to track employees’ test status. Employees who passed the screening, plus those who have had the virus and recovered, can be given wrist bands to show they are cleared to return to work
- Where to conduct screenings. If the parking situation at the office is conducive to outside testing, employees can be tested in their cars when they arrive, which is the safest and most efficient way. Otherwise, screenings can be set up before employees enter the building
- What to tell co-workers if an employee is absent.
“Working and interacting with others is an experience that can be stressful for quite some time,” commented Moore. “Employers need not only to observe employment law in this new situation, but also to take the necessary health and screening procedures to ensure a safe workplace. Bringing in a professional medical team for these vital functions also sends a reassuring message to staff, who are understandably nervous about returning to work and leaving “shelter at home” situations.”