How to Facilitate Workplace COVID Testing
Testing is a critical element of any plan that supports lifting restrictions, stopping the spread of COVID-19 and preventing new waves. Suppressing future infections requires testing those exposed or infected to ensure they do not spread the virus further.
Through workplace COVID testing and vaccine verification, employers can mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at their facilities. These measures offer increased safety for employees and the ability to keep workers on site and operations running.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission approves employers’ screening and testing of employees for COVID-19.
Screening employees for COVID-19 symptoms is both an inexpensive and simple way to stop the spread of the virus. However, screening comes with a few problems, including asymptomatic employees who still carry the virus and poor reporting.
When screening employees for COVID-19, the most common ways to implement those checks are:
- Temperature checks upon entry
- A questionnaire or verbal interview
Each of these options may help stop the spread of COVID-19 by encouraging employees to stay home if they’re feeling unwell. However, screening doesn’t address infected employees who haven’t yet presented symptoms.
Workplace COVID Testing
Workplace COVID testing is the most thorough way to stop the spread of infection among employees. This approach protects employees at a higher risk of complications from illness. Outbreaks can be prevented before whole sections or departments are infected, thus saving the company time, money, and resources.
If possible, offering on-site COVID testing for employees eases the burden on employees. When offering workplace COVID testing, employers need to consider four crucial factors:
- The accuracy and reliability of the tests
- The administration of the tests
- The confidentiality of employee health records
- Managing the testing results data
On-site COVID testing for employees offers candidates a safe work environment where their chances of contracting COVID are as low as possible. This can boost employee morale, giving employees more peace of mind to focus on the tasks at hand.
COVID Testing Scenarios
As an employer, deciding on the frequency and type of COVID testing for your workplace depends on several factors. These factors can include your number of on-site employees, how often they come to the workplace, and if a setting is high-risk.
The CDC recommends COVID screening tests for the following types of companies:
- Large companies
- Companies where employees interact with the public regularly. For example, workplaces where workers are in close contact with the public, such as restaurants or salons, or workplaces in communities with moderate to high transmission.
- Workplaces where there is a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission. For example, workplaces where physical distance is difficult and workers might be in close contacts, such as manufacturing or food processing plants, or workplaces that provide congregate housing for employees.
Screening tests are also recommended for organizations where an outbreak may have a more significant impact. For example, workplaces critical to the country, like railways, or those that serve vulnerable populations.
Screening tests are essential as they identify asymptomatic employees infected with COVID-19. Many employers use screening tests to stop the transmission in the workplace, protect employees from infection, and keep operations running. Screening tests are often administered to unvaccinated employees every one to two weeks.
Implementing regular screening tests is the most effective way to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. However, routine testing of employees is often ineffective without proper reporting of the test results. Employers also need to ensure that employees’ rights to privacy regarding health are protected. This can be done by having an online health records system that is easily accessible to the employee and the employer.
Types of COVID Tests
Most employers offer three main options for COVID testing: reaction (PCR) tests, rapid antigen tests, or at-home testing.
Diagnostic PCR tests are the most accurate and common way to detect a current infection. A provider administers the test through a swab sample taken from the back of the nose. While some PCR tests offer results within about 20 minutes, lab analysis provides the most accurate results.
Rapid Antigen Tests
Rapid antigen tests are the most accessible tests to administer in mass COVID testing, offering low costs per test and a quick collection via nasal swab. However, the results of antigen tests are slightly less accurate than PCR tests.
Home tests allow employers to easily comply with confidentiality and anti-discrimination requirements. In addition, at-home tests offer flexibility for employers who want to administer tests after infection, travel, or exposure without exposing other employees.
Tracking and Reporting COVID Testing
One of the scariest aspects of implementing a testing policy is tracking and reporting employee health in a confidential manner. In addition, medical testing is highly regulated, and employers may need to provide COVID-19 test reports for contract-tracing efforts, so accurate record-keeping is essential.
Snap Healthcare offers turnkey lab reporting and delivers results that include its COVID test reporting tool. This allows both employees and employers to manage their compliance with testing and vaccination. Employees can upload vaccine cards, receive their test results, and get notifications of testing appointments.
Snap Healthcare offers COVID-19 test reports for employers, employer compliance software, on-site periodic or weekly COVID testing (where available), and the ability to customize requirements. To learn more about managing COVID test results, vaccination records, and employee privacy, book a demo today!