Our Coronavirus Return to Work Service helps companies and organisations plan for their workforce under the “New Normal”.
The service includes testing as well as practical measures. We’ve listed below some thoughts but our approach is to work proactively with you to identify the best solution.
HOW TO GET EMPLOYEES BACK TO WORK, A PRAGMATIC APPROACH
All Public Health England advice and Government UK advice should be followed.
Involve employees in conversations about their return to work and keep them up to date with Covid-19 protocols to maintain compliance.
Review the workplace and requirement for social distancing to safeguard the employee’s health and minimise the risk of infection. This can include 2m separation between employees, minimising face to face meetings and encouraging use of electronic transfer of documents rather than hard copies.
Work in collaboration with health and safety and occupational health. Bear in mind that that employees will be anxious about returning to the workplace or even travelling to the workplace. They will feel that they want their organisation to support them both physically and mentally.
Encourage use of antiviral hand gel and regular handwashing. Consider PPE such as masks in areas where social isolation is difficult. Review cleaning schedules.
Currently there is only 1 validated Covid-19 test available. This is the PCR viral swab which is used to detect current infection. It is unable to detect past infection, however it can be useful to show whether the employee has current infection or is an asymptomatic carrier. Swabs are available for same day distribution through The London General Practice.
A pragmatic approach would be to swab the nose and throat of each employee and if positive, they must self-isolate at home and not be allowed back to work until they have a negative swab. Current guidelines recommend that two consecutive negative swabs at least one day apart are required to exclude COVID-19. However, this could be decided by the company’s HR or occupational health department based on current knowledge. Those employees who are negative would be allowed back immediately.
As there is concern over a second phase, the company may wish to swab their employees on a regular basis or as a basic preventative measure you may wish to take the temperature of employees on a daily basis during this outbreak in order to detect a developing illness. There will be data protection issues around health testing.
The median incubation period of Covid-19 is considered to be five to six days with a range from 1 to 14 days. Over the course of the infection viral RNA has been identified in the respiratory tract specimens up to one to two days before the onset of symptoms. Viral load persists up to eight days after the onset of symptoms in mild cases and peaks at day 11 in more severe cases. Prolonged viral shedding has been reported from nasopharyngeal swabs up to 37 days after the onset of symptoms amongst adult patients.
If an employee has had symptoms or been diagnosed with COVID-19, two negative PCR swabs (24 hours apart) at least eight days after the onset of symptoms are suggested.
Any employee developing symptoms of a fever or cough should sent home immediately and any close working contacts need to be monitored and potentially sent home and subsequently swabbed.
Employees should declare any Covid related illness in their households and should self-isolate in line with PHE guidance.
Antibody tests. Currently no validated antibody tests exist within the United Kingdom. There is also no known relationship between antibody level and immunity. At this present time, the level of antibody cannot be considered a passport for immunity and therefore to work again. This is likely to change and may provide a further route to determine whether an employee is able to work and be safe within the working environment.
For further information please call The London General Practice on 020 7935 1000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how you would like to tailor this suggested programme to meet the requirements for your workforce.
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