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Automated COVID-19 Screening Enables Seamless Return To Work

By Megan Manley

After two months in lockdown, most South African businesses have the all clear to return to work with the downgrade to Level 3 regulations as of 1 June 2020. However, the recommencement of trade will be far from business as usual, with workplaces required to take precautionary measures against COVID-19 to protect their staff, contractors and visitors for the foreseeable future.

As well as requirements for social distancing, PPE and regular disinfection, the Department of Labour (DOL) has strict regulations for daily symptom screening, prior to granting personnel or visitors access on-site. Luckily, a new tech innovation to automate this process should put employers’ minds at ease.

A leading provider of workforce screening and visitor management solutions, WizzPass has been providing trusted smart access solutions since 2015, to well known names such as Sanlam, Sasol, Exxaro, ABInBev, EY and Standard Chartered Bank.

However, the need for smart access solutions has perhaps never been more critical than it is now, with the number of COVID-19 infections on the rise in South Africa. As a result, WizzPass has turned its attention to the provision of an automated business access solution. This streamlines the symptom screening process, while minimising contact between personnel, and automates record keeping for contact tracing, auditing and compliance purposes.

“Returning to work can be a daunting process for employers who have the responsibility of managing the spread of COVID-19 and ensuring their staff and visitors are kept safe. By providing the first complete digital system for businesses to have real-time COVID-19 monitoring for all employees, contractors and visitors, we hope to alleviate the pressure on local businesses”, says Ulrich Stark, WizzPass’ Executive Director.

The provision of a self-screening system minimises the need for contact between personnel. Prior to arrival, employees can fill out a pre-screening COVID-19 questionnaire from an online employee dashboard that can be easily accessed via their mobile phone, laptop or PC. This enables them to self-report their health status before their arrival at work, saving check-in time and allowing for automatic record keeping.

Contact is further minimised through a variety of contactless check-in methods, including a handheld scanner, a check-in tablet or a touchless reception dashboard. All of these options allow for contactless identity verification, by scanning the QR code on an employee’s digital access card, as well as automatically recording their responses to the COVID-19 assessment, marking their adherence to PPE requirements, and recording their temperature reading.  This can all be done quickly and efficiently at the relevant access point, prior to granting them access onto the premises. 

In the event of any staff member presenting COVID-19 symptoms or a high temperature, then email and SMS notifications are automatically sent to management or the company’s COVID-19 health committee. To aid surveillance, all COVID-19 screening results can be viewed in real-time via the WizzPass dashboard. A variety of reports can also be accessed for tracking, auditing or compliance purposes.

Automation of the screening and record keeping process has further benefits when it comes to contact-tracing. In the event of a staff member or visitor testing positive for COVID-19, records of the people who were on-site with them during a certain date and time can easily be accessed. Furthermore, if required, an immediate emergency evacuation message can automatically be sent by the WizzPass system to all personnel on site.

“It is essential that businesses adhere to the DOL’s COVID-19 workplace regulations to both minimise the spread of the virus but also to ensure their return to work is problem free. While no employer wants their staff to be exposed to the disease, if there is evidence that the worker contracted COVID-19 as a result of occupational exposure they could also be held financially responsible in terms of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act,” says Stark.

To mitigate against any risk, he recommends adherence to regulation whilst putting in place a process that is user-friendly and minimises check-in time on arrival. Pre-screening and automated check-in processes will ensure that employers have more time to focus on getting their businesses back on track.

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