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Keven Moore: Screening your employees for COVID-19; provide proper training and protective supplies

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is changing many features and characteristics of the current workplace, as many employers begin planning for what their post-coronavirus office will look like many are having to plan how they will begin screening their employees for the COVID-19 virus.

Several states and local municipalities have implemented orders or issued guidance urging or requiring that temperature checks be implemented before employees are permitted to report to work. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also has issued COVID-19 specific guidance urging workplaces located in communities with minimal to moderate COVID-19 risk to implement regular health checks, including temperature and respiratory symptom screening.

These preventive measures are important to slow the spread of the COVID-19 and protect other employees from contacting the virus while at work. Therefore, employers need to ensure that when they take employees’ temperatures, they do so safely.


The following best practices should be considered and implemented, as appropriate, in connection with temperature testing. Employers should:

• Communicate Screening Intentions – Clearly communicate your screening intentions in advance with your employees regarding temperature checks and related implications (e.g., being sent home).

• Set Temperature Threshold – Set a temperature screening threshold over which employees will not be permitted to enter the workplace. The CDC considers a person to have a fever when he or she has a measured temperature of at least 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit; many employers have adopted screening thresholds in the 100-100.4°F range.

Keven Moore works in risk management services. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky, a master’s from Eastern Kentucky University and 25-plus years of experience in the safety and insurance profession. He is also an expert witness. He lives in Lexington with his family and works out of both Lexington and Northern Kentucky. Keven can be reached at kmoore@roeding.com

• Reduce Intrusiveness  – Seek to simplify testing in the least intrusive way possible, by attempting to obtain devices that can register temperature without exposure to bodily fluids. Touchless no-contact thermometers such as a temporal thermometer is recommended. Remember to disinfect after each use.

• Assign Facilitator with Proper Training  – it would be ideal to assign an on-site medical staff person or other medical professional (e.g., R.N., M.A.) to screen employee’s health and take temperatures when possible. If not possible then, employers should ensure that the facilitators and screener are properly trained.

• Plan For Bottlenecks  – establish multiple temperature check stations for larger employers to minimize bottlenecks and delays and when necessary inform employees to arrive earlier.

• Maintain Social Distancing – Establish social distaining lines w six feet separations as people wait to enter screening stations by establishing multiple temperature check stations at large facilities to minimize crowding.

• Install Disinfection Stations – Employers should put in disinfection stations with hand sanitizer where employees can disinfect their hands while entering the workplace.

• Provide Proper PPE – issue proper personal protective equipment to facilitators for the situation. See below for more guidelines.
When applicable, some employers are directing employees to self-administer their health screening questions and temperature screening tests and reporting the results to their employers daily before entering the facility. Facilitators should be appointed and given the authority to direct employees with elevated temperatures not to report to work or to send home employees who have arrived.


Self-administered temperature tests do help to minimize risk in terms of spread of COVID-19 and are simpler to administer from a compliance perspective. If employers go this route, they should designate locations for the self-testing on-site and show the reading to a test facilitator, who determines if the temperature is elevated and has the authority to send home affected employees.

If self-administered testing is not applicable, then a more involved approach will be required for the employer to follow. OSHA requires that the employers evaluate reasonably anticipated hazards and assess the risks to which workers may be exposed. Although OSHA has not yet issued recommendations specific to temperature taking, it has issued general COVID-19 workplace guidance.

If employers plan to administer the testing they should anticipate that temperature test facilitators are at a high/very high exposure risk since they will likely be in close proximity to a large number of workers, including potentially infectious individuals.

As a result, employers must supply those facilitators with the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). OSHA advises that such workers likely need to wear gloves, a gown, a face shield or goggles, and either a face mask or a respirator (e.g., an N95 filtering facepiece). 

Before administrating temperature testing, employers should review and follow OSHA’s PPE standards at 29 CFR 1910 Subpart I and the Respiratory Protection standard, 29 CFR 1910.134 for selection, training, and other applicable requirements. Facilitators should take the following steps: (1) perform hand hygiene; (2) don appropriate PPE; (3) check temperature; (4) remove and properly discard PPE; and (5) perform hand hygiene. It’s vital that employers also provide hand hygiene facilities (e.g., sink or alcohol-based hand rub sanitizer) are readily available at or nearby to the temperature station.

Be Safe My Friends!

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