Keep Employees Safe With Voluntary COVID Testing

As a COVID-19 continues to be a concern, employers are looking for ways to prevent an outbreak in the workplace. Many have found that offering voluntary testing can be a great way to keep their staff safe. Some might even see it as an employee benefit, as it can give them peace of mind. Here are a few additional reasons why managers may want to consider incorporating a voluntary COVID-19 testing option into the workplace.


May Reduce Asymptomatic Spread

Many people who get COVID don’t have symptoms of the virus, meaning employees can unknowingly spread it to others in the workplace. The Journal of the American Medical Association published an article, “SARS-CoV-2 Transmission From People Without COVID-19 Symptoms,” investigating the proportion of asymptomatic individuals contributing to the transmission of COVID-19. The study found that over half of COVID-19 cases came from people who do not have symptoms. 

By offering regular, voluntary COVID-19 testing to their employees regardless of whether or not they are symptomatic, employers can identify active COVID-19 infections take steps to protect their workers.


Can Identify Breakthrough Cases

It’s rare for a vaccine to offer 100% immunity from a specific disease. Most vaccines, like the current COVID-19 vaccines approved and authorized in the US, offer effective immunity, meaning a person has protection from severe illness and death but can still be infected.

Although they effectively reduce the risk of infection, a fully vaccinated employee can still get the virus. Fully vaccinated workers can also be exposed to the virus shortly after receiving the vaccine, meaning their body hasn’t had enough time to build immunity. 

Additionally, immunity from vaccines fades over time. People who were vaccinated months ago may not be as protected against COVID. And as new variants emerge, experts become more uncertain how effective the vaccines will be against them. 

Giving employees to test for COVID may help identify breakthrough cases early, reducing the spread of the virus. 

Looking to Offer COVID Testing to Your Employees?

Metriks offers COVID-19 testing services to businesses of all sizes. Whether you are looking to test employees weekly or as needed, we have an option for you. Contact us today to learn more. 

6 Things Employers Should Know About OSHA’s ETS

On November 5, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published an emergency temporary standard (ETS) on vaccination and testing in the Office of the Federal Register in an effort to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the workplace. OSHA’s ETS requires workers at large companies to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or consent to weekly testing and wear a mask in the workplace. Employees who test negative must be removed from the workplace. For employers to maintain compliance with OSHA’s ETS, they first need to understand how the rules apply to their business. Here are six things employers should know about OSHA’s ETS.

1) What is an ETS?

To justify an ETS, OSHA must determine that workers are in grave danger, and an emergency standard is needed to protect them from that danger, allowing OSHA to bypass temporarily bypass the formal rulemaking process. An ETS takes effect immediately and remains in effect until a permanent OSHA standard replaces it.  

According to OSHA, unvaccinated employees are more likely to get and transmit COVID-19 in the workplace than vaccinated employees, which can lead to serious illness and death. OSHA argues that the ETS can prevent these devastating consequences by strongly encouraging vaccination and protecting those who remain unvaccinated through regular testing, requiring the use of face masks, and removing infected employees from the workplace. 

2) What businesses does the ETS apply to?

While there are a few exceptions, this standard generally applies to all workplaces under OSHA’s authority and jurisdiction with 100 employees or more. It does not apply to employees who don’t report to a workplace with other employees, such as those who work from home, or exclusively outdoors. 

3) What do employers need to do to comply with the ETS?

Employers who fall under the standard must create, implement, and enforce a COVID-19 vaccination policy or a testing protocol that requires unvaccinated employees to test negative weekly and wear a mask while at work. Employees who test positive or are diagnosed with COVID-19 must immediately notify employers. Employers must remove them from the workplace until they meet the requirements for returning to work. 

Employers are responsible for determining the vaccination status of each employee. Additionally, they must obtain proof, maintain a record and a roster containing their status. 

It’s important for employers to know that the ETS does not require employers to pay for the cost of weekly testing for unvaccinated employees. However, certain laws, regulations, or agreements may require them to assume the costs. 

4) What happens if employers don’t comply with the ETS?

Companies that fail to comply with the regulations could be subject to penalties amounting to nearly $14,000 per violation. This amount may increase tenfold for employers that willfully violate the rule. 

5) Do employers need to report positive cases?

The ETS does not require employers to report positive cases to OSHA; however, they must notify them about work-related COVID-19 fatalities within 8 hours of learning about them. Employers must also notify OSHA about work-related hospitalizations within 24 hours. 

6) What records do businesses need to disclose to OSHA?

Under the ETS, OSHA, employees, and employee representatives can request records from employers to determine compliance.

If requested by OSHA, employers must provide the aggregate number of fully vaccinated employees and the total number of employees at the workplace within four business hours. Employers have until the end of the next business day if an employee or a representative requests this information.

Employers also have four hours to provide OSHA with their written policies for compliance with the ETS and until the end of the next business day to provide any other requested documentation.

Employer Decisions

To remain compliant with OSHA’s ETS, employers need to review and possibly revise their existing policies. They will also need to decide if they will require vaccination or allow their employees to opt for weekly testing.