Developing Your Workplace Health Screening Plan [Updated with Latest on OSHA and CMS Vaccine Mandates]
Updated: December 13, 2022
Since the summer of 2021, we’ve seen a gradual reopening of many workplaces. But the comeback hasn’t been as stress-free for business owners and employees. Reopening the workplace entails implementing a flexible return-to-work plan that can ensure safety and adhere to variants of concern and changing government regulations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that about 265.6 million people in the United States have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, including about 226.6 million people who have been fully vaccinated. The C.D.C. also reports that about 111.4 million fully vaccinated people have received an additional vaccine or a booster dose.
Even with the majority of the population having taken their vaccinations, we cannot confidently say we’re out of the blue. Having a vigilant health screening process that includes COVID-19 vaccine tracking and test tracking is still the best way to prevent the virus from entering the workplace.
In Go Evo’s return-to-work guide, we specified the importance of establishing a means of screening and tracking employees’ health, in addition to reporting tools that can help you and your employees manage, assess, and report on varying aspects of returning to the workplace.
Here, we dive deeper into how you can implement a strong health screening plan with Go Evo’s Personal Protective App (PPA) and keep your workplace safe well in 2023.
OSHA ETS and CMS Vaccine Mandate Updates
In January 2022, the US supreme court blocked president Biden’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration Emergency Temporary Standards (OSHA ETS) vaccine mandate. This means that businesses with 100 or more employees do not have to mandate vaccine tracking and testing.
However, the court stayed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) vaccine mandate. The CMS rule applies to healthcare services and suppliers regulated under CMS standards.
Note that the CMS rule also applies to any employee at a covered facility, no matter their role or position. It also affects those who provide services under contract to the facility.
The ruling applies to 25 states across the USA. States that are exempt from the CMS vaccine mandate are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Can Businesses Still Implement a Health Screening Plan?
While the federal government cannot mandate vaccines for all organizations, there is nothing stopping you from being proactive. A health screening plan is a non-invasive measure to keep your workforce safe.
Before you start to implement a health screening plan for your business, make sure you’re aware of the major considerations involved. Many governments and companies have been sharing resources that outline key preparations ahead of a workplace reopening.
For instance, the Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS) provided a comprehensive list that thoroughly covers everything businesses need to keep in mind as they move forward.
The team at Go Evo has turned it into a handy checklist that you can now test in the PPA. That way, you can keep track of your progress and highlight what needs to be done.
Determine Who You’ll Be Screening
Depending on your business, you’ll need to consider who will be entering your workplace. Will it be only employees? Will you be receiving customers and/or other visitors regularly? If so, will they be entering for short visits or longer periods of time?
The WSPS identifies two main types of screening for workplaces:
We recommend active screening for most workplaces unless your business receives only temporary visitors, such as take-out restaurants or pharmacies. If your workplace requires active screening, your plan needs to include protocols for visitors and clients who may not have access to the same reporting tools as your employees.
However, if you’re using Go Evo’s PPA, this will not apply. Both employees and visitors can conduct their screenings on the same platform so administrators can access all the records in one place. Employers can also accommodate their workers and visitors by customizing their screening questions.
Keep the workplace safe with proper screening procedures for workers and require self-assessments before they come into work. That way, you can catch early signs of colds, flu, and COVID-19 before it spreads. Leveraging screening and test-tracking technologies can help you efficiently manage workplace health and detect potential risks.
Consider How You’ll Be Screening
You can implement one of the three screening methods in the workplace.
You can monitor potential exposures by keeping a record of where everyone has been working throughout the day. Should there be any potential risks, notify those in close contact immediately.
Additionally, consider implementing more paperless processes to maintain social distancing and minimize risk. Today, easy solutions allow you to remotely keep track of potential hazards with reliable qualitative data and records.
- Question-based screening: Actively ask individuals to complete a questionnaire determining their health status before entering the workplace. Employees and visitors can access this right from the home screen of their PPA app. Regular in-app updates ensure your screening questions are fully compliant with local regulations.
- Rapid antigen screening: This method involves collecting samples from those without symptoms or known exposure risks, and should only be used after the individual has answered the above questionnaire. Should you choose to conduct onsite rapid antigen screening or temperature checks, the PPA includes built-in functionality for users and administrators alike to document these results within the app, in real-time.
- Self-monitoring: Even after an individual has been approved to enter the workplace, they should continue monitoring their own symptoms. Employers should encourage workers and visitors to self-monitor by providing a list of symptoms to watch out for and easily accessible self-assessment tools. The PPA’s document center centralizes all educational materials for this purpose, as well as self-assessment and reporting tools that can be conducted by individuals privately and efficiently.
Questions to Consider When Implementing a Contactless Employee Screening Program
If you are considering beginning an employee screening program or using contactless screening technology, ask yourself the following questions:
Who must be screened, and who is conducting workplace screenings?
Depending on where you live or your industry, there may be specific CDC or public health recommendations on who should be screened and how screenings should take place. For instance, some regions may require businesses with over a certain number of employees to conduct daily temperature tests while others may only require a comprehensive coronavirus response plan that may or may not include additional screening.
If possible, try to treat all employees equally in your screening policies and have communicated guidelines that are accessible to all employees. Also, be sure to take into consideration the regulations for visitors to your workplace. If you are planning on conducting temperature screenings with a handheld device, who will be conducting these tests and what health protections will they need to screen safely?
2. Where is employee health screening information kept?
Maintaining the confidentiality of private health and screening information gathered during your testing process is crucial to ease any concerns about an employee or public privacy. Before using any screening application or adding health information to workplace databases, employers must guarantee that information is secure, encrypted, and kept separately from employee personnel files.
3. What other protection measures are in place?
Employee and visitor screenings are only a piece of the puzzle of any organization’s coronavirus safety response. Your plan should include safety measures to develop a well-rounded policy that reinforces your commitment to employee health. Requirements on handwashing, mask-wearing, physical and social distancing, staggered work shifts and working from home can all decrease the risk of COVID-19 exposure.
As employees return to work, they want to feel they are going to be safe and that their employer has taken all necessary precautions. Implementing a contactless employee screening program is a concrete step toward helping stop the spread of the coronavirus.
If you’re looking for a way to automate your pre-screening process or need to implement one, we are here to help!
5 Tips to Gaining Employee Adoption of a COVID-19 Screening Program
While starting or updating your screening process may be a change to your routine, there are some simple ways you can help your team commit to your screening program and increase adoption success.
- Be accommodating
Regardless of what your COVID-19 screening program may involve, make sure you have some alternatives available for workers who may want to conduct their screening in a different way. Some people may want to answer questions in person rather than filling out an electronic form, some may want to only continue working remotely, or some may have accessibility concerns.
Try to get as much voluntary buy-in as possible by being flexible and understanding that some people may have concerns you may not have considered.
- Acknowledge and address privacy concerns
As an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure the safety of your employees. Designating an individual or group of people at your workplace who employees can go to with questions, listen to concerns, follow up with any missed screenings, and conduct any necessary individual screening can foster compliance.
Giving employees some kind of forum to be involved or heard during this time is important for overall health and safety and employee morale.
- Encourage and support
We all know the hand washing and social distancing mantra 2020 has brought us, and although it may seem obvious it is important to continue to encourage and support positive health behaviours.
Try to enable as much physical distancing as possible, encourage hand-washing breaks, and make PPE readily available. To have the highest chance of full compliance with your COVID-19 screening program, make it as easy as possible for your employees to continue good habits.
- Increase communication
With regulations, public health guidelines, and internal policies constantly evolving, it is important that your employees are staying up to date and informed. Be transparent about what changes might be coming and try to get feedback before setting policies in stone.
Explain why screening policies are necessary and the process used for determining the level of screening you are introducing. Communicate that policies are likely to change and instruct employees on where to find all updated information and guidelines.
- Embrace flexibility
As with any new workplace policy, it is important to review, re-evaluate, and revise your procedures as new information becomes available and you gather feedback. Let your employees know you are open to suggestions and are prepared to adjust as you gain information.
Besides, you must have a concrete plan communicated to all staff in case someone tests positive or gets potentially exposed to COVID-19. Include information on the immediate steps your organization will take along with tracing procedures, confidentiality policies, and any return to work regulations.
Developing a Health Screening Plan That Fits Your Workplace
While we are moving out of the pandemic, what the future holds for us is still uncertain. Businesses need to remain vigilant with a strong health screening plan that’s fully compliant with local regulations. While there are general safety guidelines that every type of business should follow, the strongest workplace health screening plan is one that’s well-catered to your employees and clients. This is especially true of healthcare facilities complying with the CMS vaccine mandate.
Prioritizing individual needs, Go Evo’s PPA is redesigned for workplaces that seek to build a solid health and safety compliance plan going forward. Additionally, with constant in-app updates and improvements, the PPA alleviates employers’ efforts to adhere to regulations so they can focus on getting their business goals back on track.
Book a call with us today to see how Go Evo’s solutions can help you efficiently implement a health and safety compliance plan catered to your business.