As of the writing of this blog, nearly 40% of the US population is vaccinated. A sense of normalcy has returned, and more people are heading back to the office (if they weren’t already there).
Despite the vaccine ramp-up and the bluer skies ahead, COVID-19 remains a threat, especially with people coming into close contact more often.
And offices are a prime location for close contact. After all, work is where most adults spend the bulk of their days. In response, the CDC has suggested that employers perform daily health checks for employees.
With that said, the cornerstone to any successful health screening initiative is asking the right questions. Doing so will keep your people feeling safe and protected while at the office.
We’re laying out the questions you should be asking on your office’s health screening questionnaire:
A preamble to COVID-19 Screening Questions: The Yes or No Rule
Yes or no questions keep the process simplified. You don’t want employees spending their mornings writing an essay about whether they have COVID-19 symptoms.
Question 1: In the past 48 hours, have you experienced any of the following symptoms?
- Chills or fever of 100.4°F or more
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Body/muscle aches
- Loss of smell or taste
- Runny or congested nose/sinuses
- Sore throat
- Vomiting or general nausea
Realistically, you don’t want employees coming into the office with any of these symptoms. They should be encouraged to screen themselves for any of the above ailments before leaving home and heading into work.
Typically, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) deemed it a violation to ask about employees having specific symptoms. These rules change, however, when there’s a pandemic.
So until the pandemic is no longer a pandemic, you can ask employees if they’re experiencing COVID symptoms.
Now, allergies and other factors might cause symptoms similar to COVID-19. Of course, you want to avoid sending your team packing because they have the sniffles during hayfever season.
As such, consider adding a follow-up question about whether the symptoms can be explained by a known, non-infectious condition. This way, people can SAFELY come into the office, even when symptoms unrelated to COVID are flaring up.
Question 2: Have you been within 6 feet of anyone showing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (see the previous question) for at least 15 minutes over the last 14 days?
The social distancing guidelines have suggested remaining 6-feet apart from everyone outside your household because infections typically occur within that distance. The CDC also states that the main concern is when you’re in close contact for 15-minutes or more.
Moreover, symptoms of COVID-19 can take between 2 and 14 days to make themselves known.
This lengthy timeframe means someone can be asymptomatic carriers for nearly two weeks before symptoms start showing. In fact, they might remain asymptomatic the entire time they’re infected.
Remember, preventing asymptomatic from coming into work cases is just as crucial as keeping employees with symptoms at home.
Question 3: Have you been within 6 feet of anyone known to have laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes over the last 14 days?
The principle behind this question is the same as the previous. However, the wiggle-room here for an employee is far less.
Being near someone with a confirmed case heightens the infection risk drastically, and there is zero way someone should come into work if they’ve been near someone who’s had COVID-19.
(Note: Provided an employee answers ‘yes’ to question 2 OR 3, they should be removed from contact for at least 72 hours, receive several negative tests, and show no symptoms. In many cases, employers wait an entire week for peace of mind and optimal safety assurance.)
Question 4: Are you quarantining or isolating because you fear you might have contracted COVID-19 or have been exposed to somebody with COVID-19?
If somebody is isolating/quarantining at home because they’re worried about having COVID-19, they definitely shouldn’t be coming into the office.
Treat a ‘yes’ in this scenario the same as questions 2 and 3. Ensure your employee remains contactless for AT LEAST 72 hours and receives a couple of negative tests to offset the risk of a false negative.
Question 5: Have you recently received a COVID-19 test and are awaiting results?
The employee in question should stay at home until the test comes back negative. Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should remain home. Encourage employees to receive a negative test before returning to the office.
Other Considerations About COVID-Screening Questions
These 5 questions are a reliable baseline to start with. Still, depending on the nature of your company, you can add to them. Or you can reword them in your company’s preferred language.
Perhaps, you might want your employees to sign an agreement to follow the company’s COVID-19 precautions, which includes the following steps:
- Always keeping a six-foot distance from all other workers
- Practicing proper hygiene protocols
- Wearing a mask
If your staff can’t uphold the above standards, they should be asked to stay home.
Making Health-Screening Easier and Streamlined
Offices need to have these questionnaires prepared every day as we continue to re-establish a sense of normalcy.
Admittedly, having workers answer these questions each morning could grow frustrating for HR staff…if you aren’t streamlining the process. Using Worksphere’s automated wellness surveys removes the hassle entirely from the questionnaire process.
With our automated solution, which is part of a broader hybrid workplace software, you won’t have to worry about handing out questionnaires every morning. All you need to do is decide on the questions you want to ask one time, and the software takes care of the rest.