Simplifying Ontario’s New Workplace COVID Screening Requirements

Macadamian Technologies | October 5, 2020 | 5 Min Read

Many businesses in Ontario that have begun reopening will now be required to have all employees and essential visitors complete a symptom screening survey. While this will help make employees and customers safer, it creates a few challenges for businesses to implement.

*Where this article references legal requirements, it is not to be construed as legal advice.

Overview Of Changes

Many businesses across Ontario have already opened up and have begun to allow employees back on site. Everything from retail and restaurants, to manufacturing and offices.
A change to Ontario’s Stage 3 reopening regulations has made it a requirement of all businesses to screen their workers and essential visitors for symptoms of COVID-19 before entering the workplace.

This includes your regular staff members and volunteers as well as essential visitors like delivery, maintenance, contract workers.

Provided alongside the update is a list of mandatory screening questions that must be asked of every worker and essential visitor before or upon arriving at the business.

While this screening tool provided by the government helps with clarity around which questions will need to be answered, it does create quite a few challenges for businesses.

This update to the regulation creates some pressing implications for Ontario businesses like:

  • Who will be responsible for administering this screening?
  • How will you have your staff complete the screening?
  • How will all of this information be stored and for how long?
  • How will you manage the workers that do not pass the screening?

A Review of the Challenges

Administration of Screening

The government doesn’t mandate how the screening must be conducted which gives businesses freedom in how to implement the screening into existing processes or through the creation of new ones.

This is actually a challenge that one of our hospital customers, The Élisabeth Bruyère Hospital and long-term care residences here in Ottawa, experienced early on in the pandemic when they were first required to screen their staff.

This sparked the creation of HealthQ, our mobile application for conducting this very kind of symptom screening.

The good news is solutions, like ours, already exist on the market to reduce the administrative burden of conducting these screenings.

Using a paper-based form requires someone to administer the questions, tabulate the results, and store the responses for later reference.

A tool like HealthQ allows for symptom screening to be completed prior to entering the facility and responses can be quickly verified by displaying the “pass” screen on the results page.

Storing Information

The government doesn’t mandate how long this information needs to be stored for and it’s still unknown how they will enforce or monitor the results of these screenings.

Answers to these questions may constitute Personal Health Information (PHI) depending on your business and protecting/processing that information securely is critical to the privacy of your employees.

Leveraging a tool like HealthQ can help you cut down on this administrative burden of managing the data collected in these screeners as all of the data is stored in a Microsoft Azure Data Centre in Canada.

Failed Screening Tests

The challenge with screening tests is that some workers may fail them and need to be sent home creating challenges with determining when they are eligible to return to work as well as considerations around making sure you have enough staff on hand for any given role/shift.

A tool like HealthQ enables you to check in on the overall status of your workplace and filter by failed screenings so that you can assess impacts to staffing and follow up with the individuals impacted.

How HealthQ Works

Signing up for HealthQ is easy, simply select the plan that’s best for your business needs to start your 7-day free trial, create your account, and set up your screening questions.

You can start from one of our standard templates, including one designed specifically for Ontario businesses (coming soon).

Once completed, you’ll be given a URL that can be emailed to employees, or displayed at the entrance of your business as a QR code that will launch the screener.

There is no app to download for your staff or visitors and no paperwork needed to administer or store the results. All of the data is stored on Macadamian’s HealthConnect Platform as a Service. Macadamian is a Microsoft Gold Cloud Partner and is in the business of developing custom healthcare solutions that comply with data privacy and security regulations.

Staff and essential visitors simply launch the app in their browser, enter their details, answer the questions then submit to receive their results.

Get started with a 7-day free trial.

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