As businesses commence to reopen in the coming days and weeks, employers may need to take temperatures of employees, visitors, customers and vendors. Many states will either require or highly recommend this practice, so now is the time to consider the precautions and procedures your business will implement.
Do You Have to Take Temperatures?
Unless it is a local or state order, there is no requirement to take temperatures in most workplaces. Assigning an employee to take temperatures requires planning, training and can be expensive. Furthermore, many individuals infected with COVID-19 will not exhibit any symptoms making the temperature check useless. Remember that if you decide to screen your employees, you also need to verify the temperatures of guests, clients, vendors, and contractors to confirm a safe workplace.
Who Should Do the Screening?
If your organization does not employ an occupational nurse, or temporary temperature screener, then you need to assign one person to do the screening at the beginning of a shift. The person should wear protective clothing, be screened in advance, and must require that other employees and customers maintain social distancing while waiting for their temperature check.
Confidentiality must always be on your mind during temperature checks. The person you assign to take the temperatures must know not to share these results. You should maintain the records of the screenings in confidential medical files and not in the employees’ regular personnel records.
Taking an employee’s temperature is permissible and appropriate to protect against the spread of the COVID virus. However, you must do it carefully, privately, and with the understanding of your customers and employees.
Training the Temperature Taker
Understand that the employee who is taking temperatures is vulnerable to hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that any individual within 6 feet of people who may have COVID-19 wear personal protective equipment (PPE), which includes gloves, a gown and a face mask. The screening employee should receive training on the required PPE under the OSHA standard.
If not required by state order, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) allows employers to screen for COVID-19 without touching them. This method consists of standing more than 6 feet away and asking employees and customers if they have a temperature along with a visual inspection. This method does not require the screener to use PPE.
Your employees may claim that their time waiting in line is compensable and they should receive pay. Although no law exists regarding this issue, it would behoove you to err on the side of paying employees throughout the screening process. You will need to implement a system of clocking in when your employees get in line for their screening.
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