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workplace covid-19 screening process

Developing Your Workplace Health Screening Plan [Updated with Latest on OSHA and CMS Vaccine Mandates]

Updated: January 27, 2022 

Since the summer of 2021, we’ve seen a gradual reopening of many workplaces. While restaurant-goers have been glad to visit their favorites again, it 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.

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. 

While an increasing number of people have been getting their vaccinations, there are still those who remain unprotected. In the US, for instance, 37% of the population remains either unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated. Plus, with the continuing presence of COVID-19 variants, 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.

Here, we take a deeper dive into how you can implement a strong health screening plan with Go Evo’s Personal Protective App (PPA), and keep your workplace safe well into the new year.

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. This includes the following institutions: 

  • LTC Facilities (nursing homes)
  • Ambulatory Surgical Centers (ASC)
  • Hospices
  • Hospitals
  • Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility Providers (PRTF)
  • Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICF/IID)
  • Home Health Agencies
  • Comprehensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Facilities (CORF)
  • Critical Access Hospitals (CAH)
  • Outpatient Rehabilitation Providers (OPT)
  • Community Mental Health Centers (CMHC)
  • Home Infusion Therapy Services (HIT)
  • Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) Center 
  • End-Stage Renal Disease Facilities
  • Facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid funds. 

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.

Check out the Department of Health and Human Services’ full CMS vaccine mandate document here.

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 still 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:

  • Passive screening asks people to self-identify if they have any symptoms or risks. Here, the individual entering the workplace is responsible for excluding themselves should they carry any symptoms.
  • Active screening requires businesses to ask individuals screening questions and possibly take their temperature. Here, the screener is responsible for advising whether the individual can enter the workplace.

Unless your business receives only temporary visitors, such as take-out restaurants or pharmacies, active screening is what’s recommended for most workplaces. If your workplace requires active screening, your plan will need 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 own 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. The use of screening and test tracking technologies can help you efficiently manage workplace health and keep an eye on potential risks.

Consider How You’ll Be Screening

Once you’ve identified the individuals entering your workplace, the next step is to determine the safest methods to screen each one. For employers, there are three different types of screening methods that can be implemented at 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 right away. Additionally, consider implementing more paperless processes to maintain social distancing and further minimize risk. Today, easy solutions allow you to remotely keep track of potential hazards with reliable qualitative data and records.

  1. Question-based screening: Before they enter, actively ask individuals to complete a questionnaire that will determine their health status. From the PPA, this can be accessed right from the home screen by employees and visitors alike. Regular in-app updates also ensure your screening questions are fully compliant with local regulations.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.
 

Developing a Health Screening Plan That Fits Your Workplace

As we move into year three of the pandemic, 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 designed for employers, administrators, and anyone else entering your workplace, with ease of use in mind. 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 screening plan that’s catered to your business.

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