Coronavirus & Safety in the Workplace (5)

Only personnel trained in objective screening procedures can be designated to administer COVID-19 temperature screenings. Designated persons must be trained and understand the manufacturer’s instructions and limitations for the digital forehead thermometer.  

In addition, it’s critically important for designated people to maintain consistency to the company’s screening procedures. Designated and trained people must understand that the screening process applies to all persons entering the workplace and not just employees. Employee health information must be maintained confidential and not included in personnel files. 

To discuss this topic in more detail, contact:

Kenneth R. Fry, MS
President/Principal Consultant

MKI Safety Group Inc.
425 Southfield Drive
Oley, PA 19547
Phone: 610-223-2223
Fax: 610-422-2547

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We are sharing this answer directly from the Foley & Lardner LLP website located at:

“Under normal circumstances, no. However, now that COVID-19 has been declared to be a pandemic by the World Health Organization, the EEOC’s pandemic flu guidance may be used as a reference. The EEOC states that while measuring an employee’s body temperature is a “medical examination,” an employer may do so if the pandemic becomes widespread in the community according to state or local health authorities or the CDC. EEOC cautions employers to keep in mind, however, that not all infected employees will have a fever (in the flu context, at least, and is the current thinking about COVID-19 as well). Moreover, employers that decide to take employees’ temperatures should be sure they are not doing so in a discriminatory manner.  Develop – and stick to – an objective procedure and/or protocol for taking temperatures. When we provided our Answer to FAQ No. 4, COVID-19 had not yet been declared a pandemic. So this Answer represents an updated response in light of more recent events.”

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Answer: We are sharing this answer directly from the Foley & Lardner LLP website located at:

“Not necessarily, but if you have a medical professional on staff or available at the worksite, then it is logical that person should be considered to administer screenings.  If no medical professional is available, it is prudent to have one or a limited number of employees (ideally within HR or senior management) who are designated and trained to take temperatures so there is consistency to the process.  Moreover, remember, employee health information is confidential and should be kept as such, and not be documented in employees’ personnel files.”

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Generally, measuring an employee’s body temperature is a medical examination. If pandemic influenza symptoms become more severe than the seasonal flu or the H1N1 virus in the spring/summer of 2009, or if pandemic influenza becomes widespread in the community as assessed by state or local health authorities or the CDC, then employers may measure employees’ body temperature. However, employers should be aware that some people with influenza, including the 2009 H1N1 virus or COVID-19, do not have a fever. 

Because the CDC and state/local health authorities have acknowledged community spread of COVID-19 and issued attendant precautions as of March 2020, employers may measure employees’ body temperature. As with all medical information, the fact that an employee had a fever or other symptoms would be subject to ADA confidentiality requirements. (See Section III, SubSection B, Question #7)

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One of our own KMRD experts created the simple list below. For more on how to create a proper ergonomic workplace for yourself at home, please read the following blog post:

“10 Easy Steps to Workstation Comfort”

  1. Adjust your chair height – your chair height and tilt should be adjusted so that your thighs are approximately parallel to the floor.
  2. Your feet should rest flat on the floor or on a footrest.
  3. Adjust your seat back – your lower back (lumbar area) plus mid-back should be well-supported. Adjust the seat back height, angle and tilt tension accordingly and sit back in your chair.
  4. Forearms should be parallel to the floor – adjust your keyboard tray or desk height accordingly.
  5. Your wrists should be straight and your hands in line with your forearms – adjust the height and position of the keyboard tray to keep wrists flat.
  6. Locate your mouse within easy reach – the mouse is to be placed on the keyboard tray (when possible) and within easy reach, no more than 3″ – 4″ from the keyboard.
  7. Keep elbows close to your sides – adjust chair arm rests so that you can rest the weight of your arms when you rest. Avoid hunching your shoulders forward.
  8. Adjust your monitor(s) for proper height and distance – the monitor should be at approximately an arm’s length (15″ – 30″) away. The upper edge of the monitor should be set at eye height so that you look slightly downward at the top two inches of the screen allowing your eyes to scan down the screen. Dual monitors should be located closely together and at the same height and distance so that your eyes do not have to re-focus and your head does not turn significantly when you look back and forth.
  9. Avoid screen glare – tilt your screen or reposition it. Do not position your monitor directly below lighting fixtures. Position your screen perpendicular to windows or other light sources. Use an anti-glare screen only as a last resort.
  10. Take breaks – take assigned work breaks to refresh and relax your body. Vary your posture throughout the day and try to arrange your work assignments to avoid prolonged seated posture. Take a brief walk and/or stand while taking a phone call. Getting up for at least one minute every 30 – 45 minutes is suggested. Periodically look away to the distance to relax the eyes.

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