Corona policy in the workplace: 3 insights from our webinar
The second corona wave poses numerous questions for organisations. Is your organisation allowed to test for corona? What about contact tracing? And how do you motivate employees to continue to follow the measures? Mensura, Savitas, and Vias combined their expertise in the webinar ‘Corona policy: the second wave’. You can find the three most important insights below.
1. Testing: only valuable in certain cases
As an employer, you can have your corona tests carried out in the workplace. Though you can’t just do that. There are, however, some concerns, both for the PCR tests and the serological tests.
- PCR tests – in the form of a nose or throat swab – detect traces of the coronavirus. But the sensitivity of such a test is only 70%: 3 out of 10 infected persons test negative while they are infected.
Testing all your employees makes little sense. The test is a snapshot: someone who is virus-free today can be infected tomorrow. A PCR test is useful for employees who have had high-risk contact with an infected person but do not show any symptoms. PCR tests are also valuable in healthcare, maritime shipping, and when an employee has to submit a negative test result in order to travel abroad.
- Serological tests check the immune response to COVID-19. Analysis of a blood sample lets an employee know whether or not they were infected by the coronavirus. It takes two or three weeks for sufficient antibodies to be detectable in the blood.
At the moment, it is still unclear whether and how long antibodies will protect someone against a new infection. Moreover, an occupational physician may not share the results of a serological test with the employer, which is covered by professional confidentiality. Mensura carries out serological tests in exceptional cases only.
2. Contact tracing: balance between privacy and precision
Contract tracing is a hot topic. Belgium currently opts for contact tracers who call every infected person and question them. Several other countries, such as the Czech Republic and Austria, have launched an app, which usually works on the basis of Bluetooth. Our country gave the green light in July for the development of a Belgian corona app.
Both systems have disadvantages. For example, contact tracers are completely dependent on the honesty of infected persons. Bluetooth signals, on the other hand, are often unsuitable for measuring proximity and violate privacy laws.
There are areas in the workplace where it is inevitable that employees will come into close contact. As an employer, it is therefore important to arrive at a system that guarantees privacy and accuracy. One option is a contact tracing system based on QR codes, such as Savitas. Just as employees are asked to adhere to social distancing, they are asked to scan a QR code in busy places.
3. Motivation: a lasting effort
Only 1 in 3 Flemish people are still motivated to follow up on corona measures. However, regulations are necessary to control the spread of the coronavirus in the workplace. As an employer, it is vital to continue to encourage employees to follow the guidelines. Some tips:
- Explain the ‘why’ behind every measure: providing a concrete framework and explaining the logic behind a guideline helps to keep employees motivated or to re-motivate them.
If, for example, people work in shifts at home and at the office, the numbers can motivate them to keep doing this. How big is the risk if 30 colleagues sit together? Or 10 or 5? Let the numbers speak for themselves.
- Identify possible resistance and tackle it. If sufficient hand-washing, for example, is a problem, look for the cause. Are there enough soap and disposable towels available? Are the sanitary facilities clean? Are employees encouraged to wash their hands, for example by using posters? Nudging can help remove those barriers.
- Name the positive things in different ways. Posters to thank employees for wearing mouth masks, pictures where everyone keeps their distance, etc. A positive reinforcement increases the motivation to follow the corona measures.