With COVID cases once again on the rise, mitigating workers' health risks has become a major priority for organizations of all types. But it's not easy. Guidelines constantly evolve and misinformation creates confusion, fear and doubt. So as employees return to the office, it's more important than ever to manage health-related protocols as safely, sensitively and efficiently as possible.
Fortunately, thoughtful policies enabled by workforce management practices and tools can address these challenges and help stop health risks at the door. Time-clock-integrated thermal sensors, secure workplace vaccine tracking, and a few best practices can ensure compliance for your company and more comfort for your staff.
Temperature Screenings Help Reduce Workplace Health Risks
Due to COVID-19, what once was reserved for high-risk settings is now a concern for all organizations. Naturally, healthcare facilities, schools, airports, hospitality and food-service venues are aware of the specific protocols needed to protect the health of their workers and customers. But all businesses should stay informed about their state's guidelines for workplace temperature screenings.
Several states currently require temperature screenings for all employees. Others require them for only certain specified industries or roles, or in the case of exposure. And each state decides its own threshold for what constitutes a fever.
Because some viral transmission occurs via asymptomatic carriers, an elevated temperature is not a foolproof health screening. But fever is one of the easiest symptoms for employers to track and, no matter its source, can be a reliable indicator of illness.
Benefits of Combining Temperature Scanners with Time Clocks
Tracking employee health data requires extra care to protect workers' privacy but it doesn't have to mean extra hassles or risks. The best time and attendance software will mitigate health risks at the door by seamlessly working together.
Many organizations that require temperature checks have an employee manually scan people as they enter the building, but why waste those resources when you can integrate temperature checks into the clock-in process? For example, TCP's Thermal Sensor time clock attachment works within your existing check-in process and integrates with our TimeClock Plus software to simplify tracking and managing data.
Employee Privacy and HIPAA Compliance
When tracking employee health data, organizations need to take care to protect employees’ privacy and remain HIPAA compliant. Your clock should use a temperature algorithm to protect workers' privacy and follow HIPAA compliance policies. This means workers' actual temperatures aren’t stored in the system. Employees either pass or fail, with a simple YES/NO displayed to indicate the results of the scan.
What If an Employee Fails a Health Screening?
Implementing employee health screenings necessitates having a plan in place for failed screenings. Be aware that a person may fail a temperature screening simply because they've just crossed the parking lot on a hot day. It is acceptable to allow employees to cool down for a few minutes then rescan to see if their reading normalizes.
A common practice after two failed temperature screenings, is to have the system display a message indicating NO. This will trigger a notification to the employee’s manager or an HR administrator (depending on your preferred protocols). The employee will receive an email with instructions for next steps.
If your screenings include COVID tests and a positive result is identified, be sure to follow HIPAA privacy guidelines for notifying your staff and have clear policies for impacted employees.
Attestation for Vaccine Tracking
Current U.S. government-proposed regulations require some employees to submit an attestation of their vaccination status. If your company chooses or is mandated to track COVID or other vaccination rates among employees, you face two challenges:
Efficiency: You need an easy way to capture and track those attestations as employees clock in.
Sensitivity: COVID vaccination attestation is an emotional and controversial protocol. You need to collect information in a way that shows employees you are aware of and care about their concerns.
TCP's TimeClock Plus software solves both of these challenges. Attestations can be captured during the clock-in or clock-out process and the data integrated with other employee data in the software. This ensures minimal disruption while you’re doing your part to mitigate employee health risks.
A Holistic Approach to Employee Health
Along with thermal screenings, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that "workers should be encouraged to self-monitor their health, possibly with the use of questionnaires, and take their own temperature regularly at home. Workplaces should adopt 'stay at home if unwell' and flexible sick leave policies to discourage workers with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 from coming to the workplaces."
Protect your workers by selecting a workforce management system that helps you manage these important health protocols according to CDC and HIPAA guidelines.
Learn more about TCP's Thermal Sensor touchless technology or check out our Time Clock Selection Guide to learn about TCP’s industry-leading time clock options.