As the nightmare of 2020 fades into the distance, one thing that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere in a hurry is the COVID-19 virus. Despite the government rolling out the COVID vaccines in force, experts warn that it could be as long as two years before life goes back to what it was before the coronavirus. source 1 This leaves both individuals and businesses alike asking themselves how they should adapt their work practises to keep the virus at bay.
In this blog I’ll discuss how regular COVID-19 workplace tests are quickly becoming the new norm across the UK, and how conducting these tests helps a business run more effectively and efficiently in these unusual times.
Who has been testing?
Dozens of businesses and public sector organisations have joined a government scheme to conduct regular rapid antigen testing on their employees, in a bid to make COVID testing at work commonplace across the UK. John Lewis, for example, are reporting that they have done 45,700 tests, with fewer than 1% of these returning positive results. The company claims that it has, in just a short space of time, saved 6,643 working days for 2,286 employees source 2, as absences are lower and the tests can give results in as little 15 minutes. To quantify this further: if these employees were paid minimum wage for an 8-hour working day, this would work out to be a saving of over £450,000. Similarly, Tata Steel have said that their daily COVID-19 workplace tests have helped avoid production pauses at their plants, saving them hundreds of thousands of pounds. source 2
One in three people suffering with COVID-19 are asymptomatic source 3, and so testing just those that are displaying symptoms can only do so much. Back in April of 2020, a study by Imperial College London suggested that weekly tests of healthcare workers, irrespective of symptoms, could reduce the risk of them spreading the virus by up to 33% source 4. The proof, then, is in the pudding: businesses that test their employees regularly can massively reduce the risk of the virus spreading through their ranks.
Regular COVID-19 workplace tests slow the potential spread of COVID through a company’s work-force, and will make employees — along with their families — feel safe. This will prevent unnecessary absences and save companies money. Despite this, many employers may remain hesitant about investing in a large-scale rapid antigen testing programme for their staff, but they may not need to make as big a commitment as they think. The widely used Healgen tests for instance, come in packs of 20 (with 20 swabs and 20 test cassettes) and can be ordered in small quantities at first, perhaps for a trial period of time.
The reasons to conduct COVID-19 workplace tests are clear. But can this be taken one step further? Service providers can potentially gain an even greater edge if they can issue assurances to their clients about the safety of their staff. With this in mind, Fjeld Consulting have developed Testrak — an app which provides a business with the complete framework to track and verify the COVID status of its employees. Testrak works alongside the rapid antigen tests, allowing employees to fill in their test result and upload a picture of the cassette as proof. The app also sends an email to employees and managers, confirming the result of the test (as pictured below).
Let’s say, as an example, that you own a plumbing business. Your employees when they come to work in the morning will now take a rapid antigen test – just a quick nasal swab – and 15 minutes later they are cleared to work with a negative result, or otherwise immediately sent home with a positive result. Then the homeowner whose boiler is being fixed that day can receive proof of the safety of the employee before anyone arrives at the door.
Security, engineering and cleaning companies, as well as any other business that send their employees out to different sites can use Testrak almost as a safe-to-work permit, guaranteeing clients that every employee is COVID-free. If you think your business could benefit from Testrak, please contact us at (email@example.com).