Tips on contact tracing in your workplace

July 22, 2020

As Covid-19 continues to grip the globe, contact tracing has become an essential element in the fight against the pandemic.

Although both Google and Apple have unveiled plans to assist using mobile phone data, responsibility for contact tracing of employees and customers within a business currently falls largely to the business operator themselves through record keeping.

In places like Australia, for example, businesses like café’s, restaurants, and gyms are all required to keep a mandatory record of the names, and contact details of people who frequent their premises, including staff and contractors.

So, let’s take a look at contact tracing and the tools available to assist.

How contact tracing works

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Contract tracing is considered a highly effective way of mitigating the spread of any pandemic. Basically, it allows authorities to identify people who might have been exposed to someone infected and have them isolate before they have the opportunity to spread Covid-19 further.

At present it’s a strategy being used in many countries to slow the spread of Coronavirus and test potentially infectious people.

Contact tracing apps

A number of countries, including Australia and New Zealand have implemented government-backed apps designed to make contact tracing easier.

These use Bluetooth technology to identify other people with the app installed through a digital handshake.

Ultimately, if someone tests positive for Covid-19, it’s designed to make it easier for authorities to reach out to anyone they may have been in close proximity to who also has the app.

The current problem with contact tracing apps like these is that they are voluntary and not everyone feels comfortable installing them.

Meanwhile, these protect individuals, but as part of reopening strategies, businesses are required to go above and beyond this level when it comes to creating a safe work environment.

Record keeping

Along with social distancing, one of the major conditions for many businesses reopening is accurate record keeping that enables them to record who visits their premises, on what date.

This is designed to help authorities contact anyone who may have been at the premises during the period when an infected person attended.

It tends to apply to people spending time at a premises, so for example seated diners at a restaurant are required to enter their details, but patrons picking up takeaway are not.

Meanwhile, employees and contractors are also required to enter their data in the interests of a safe workplace and Covid-19 mitigation.

So what tools are available to assist?

Tools to assist

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While smaller businesses may opt for hard copy record keeping, many larger businesses are utilising digital tools like visitor sign-in.

This enables a business to keep an accurate record of who was on-site, when they were there, how long they were there for, which area of a site they visited, and their contact details.

Available as an app that can quickly be installed on a tablet or iPad, some of these software options now also feature contactless registration, where the guest enters their information prior and is issued a QR code that they can simply scan at entry.

How businesses are adapting

Hospitality venues, gymnasiums, personal services and even offices have had to alter their operations significantly since reopening after Covid-19 lockdowns.

Here’s a quick insight into just how they’re adapting, although regulations can and do change from region to region…

Hospitality

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Hospitality venues including cafes and restaurants have altered their day-to-day operation by implementing social distancing requirements where limited patrons are allowed on-site and all have to maintain distance from each other.

Meanwhile, the details of all staff, contractors, and patrons need to be recorded.

Surfaces are required to be frequently wiped down, along with commonly touched areas like door handles, EFTPOS machines, and even menus.

Patrons seeking takeaway meals are not required to record their details.

Gymnasiums

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Record keeping, social distancing, and sanitization are also major requirements for gymnasiums, which have been among the last venues to reopen as lockdowns lift.

Again, the number of patrons on-site is limited, all must keep their distance from each other, record their attendance and contact details, and surfaces must be regularly wiped down after a patron uses them.

Personal services

Encompassing the sectors of hairdressing, massage, and beauty therapy, the personal services sector has undergone a major overhaul.

In this case, sanitisation, record keeping, social distancing and limited patrons all play a role, but there is also now a requirement to limit product sharing between patrons, so things like testers have been ruled out.

Offices

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Working from home remains an option in many workplaces as some regions slowly return to normal. In offices where attendance is required, social distancing is a must, with many workplaces reconfiguring their layout to accommodate greater personal space.

Workplace Health and Safety guidelines also recommend implementing shifts, where possible, to minimise people in the workplace.

Meanwhile, regular cleaning is required, sanitiser stations should be established, and workplaces are also encouraged to set up computer alerts that remind workers to wash their hands at regular intervals.

 

For more information on digital visitor sign-in to assist with contact tracing, see here.

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