The Challenges of Bringing Employees Back to Work

The Challenges of Bringing Employees Back to Work

By: Dr. Sarma Velamuri, M.D. Foreword by: Kirk Ashy - Shepard & Walton


Shepard & Walton is proud to partner with Luminare and Dr. Velamuri. We are all coming into another chapter of our “new normal” and at some point, someday, we are going to start bringing people back to work… and what will that look like? The Luminare concepts and their Quickscreen tool is the best we have seen.

Kirk Ashy
Partner – Vice President
Shepard & Walton Employee Benefits 

The Challenges of Bringing Employees Back to Work

When your employees are feeling sick and feel like they may have a fever, their first instinct is probably to check their temperature. However, how accurate are thermometers? How do they know if they are able to go to work and not bring an illness with them? Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, employees didn’t worry as much when they had a cold or the flu and just went to work. Their coworkers may not have been happy about it, but they carried on. However, from the onset of COVID-19, going to work carrying the coronavirus is far more dangerous and employees need to think twice before showing up to the office. Companies can be exposing themselves to lawsuits if employees show up and end up spreading COVID-19.

As the pandemic continues to affect the world, businesses are investing in peripheral thermometers and PPE to protect their employees and workplace. According to Marc Blitstein, CEO of American Diagnostic Corp., one of the nation’s largest thermometer manufacturers, “demand is up 900% for his company’s “non-contact” thermometers, which take a person’s temperature without physically touching them. Demand for ADC digital thermometers is up 300%.” It’s great that many companies are taking the pandemic seriously and investing in healthcare tools to protect their employees. However, they must know the facts about the effectiveness of thermometers and invest in all tools that are necessary to protect their staff well.

In a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, they found that “most commonly used peripheral thermometers do not accurately estimate body temperature. This was most evident for temperatures that may affect patient diagnosis, management, and outcomes (that is, fever and hypothermia).” This is concerning since a fever is an important data point for diagnosing severe infections and is one of the symptoms of COVID-19.

Handheld thermometers have become ubiquitous during this pandemic. According to Business Insider, “Thermometer screenings for COVID-19 aren't just inaccurate and unhelpful, they're lulling people into a false sense of security during the pandemic. A person's temperature, even when taken accurately, isn't always an indication of early coronavirus infection and often won't tell you that someone is ill when they're at their most contagious stage.”

So how can you protect your workplace if a peripheral thermometer isn’t accurate? In addition to temperature checks, you should look at all the symptoms you have and monitor those. According to the CDC, COVID-19 symptoms include: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion, and so on. The full list can be found on the CDC website. Investing in a syndromic surveillance tool can help you track your symptoms in addition to anyone else that is in the workplace or visitors. Syndromic surveillance focuses on monitoring the more established risks of emerging infectious disease outbreaks. In addition, “syndromic surveillance may detect health threats faster than traditional surveillance systems, such as laboratory reports, which may permit more timely, and hence potentially more effective public health action to reduce morbidity and mortality.” (BMC Public Health) If you’re serious about protecting your workplace, you should consider investing in a syndromic surveillance tool along with thermometers, PPE, and other sanitation products and services. The syndromic surveillance tool should also be compliant with HIPAA and ADA regulations along with following OSHA and CDC guidelines, reducing the liability to the company. Keep in mind that the health and safety of your employees is the most important thing.

Looking for some guidance on safely reopening your business while adhering to federal and state guidelines?

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