As companies look to reopen their businesses and manufacturing plants, they want to ensure they are providing a safe environment for employees and putting their health and wellbeing first. With the COVID-19 pandemic still a threat, two immediate questions spring to mind: How do you detect if an employee or visitor arriving at your facility is a high risk for carrying the virus? And what do you do if an employee shows symptoms?
These are difficult subjects for managers to tackle, so it’s important to have written policies and standardized ways of operating in place to guide everyone’s actions throughout an organization. These give managers confidence that the organization supports them in taking proactive measures during this time. Aptiv implemented such policies early in the pandemic – first in China and then globally – and has learned a lot. Now we’ve published our Safe Operations Protocols governing prescreening, case response, and other topics and made them available publicly so that all members of the supply chain can share learnings and benefit as they prepare to restart operations.
Without performing direct tests for COVID-19, organizations have to be on the lookout for symptoms, and they can do so through two primary means.
The first is to prompt employees about their health status as well as their relatives’ health, which can start before employees return to work. Email is not always available as a medium to reach hourly employees, so Aptiv uses a Daily Health Pulse Survey online tool that can be downloaded to their smartphones. Employees use it to check in regularly, whether they are outside of our facilities or back at work. Through the tool, they can report any symptoms or tell the organization if they have recently traveled somewhere that is a high-risk area for COVID-19. This allows Employee Health & Safety (EH&S) experts to identify employees with potential exposure or symptoms and discuss with them the best course of action before they would be allowed to return to work. In addition, posters in key locations around facilities with a QR code allow employees to access the same form.
If employees don’t use the online tool, then they are required to fill out a paper health declaration form prior to entering the facility. Although non-essential visitors are not currently allowed in our facilities, any contractors, customers or suppliers who must be on site would fill out this form as well, and no one would be allowed to enter if they haven’t filled out the form.
The second approach to prescreening is to use no-touch thermometers to monitor employees, contractors, and suppliers as they enter a facility. In Aptiv’s four-level preparedness scenario, these temperature checks would be performed at Level 3. At lower levels, our plan includes steps to ensure that thermometers are available and ready to deploy.
What happens when an employee arrives at work exhibiting symptoms, showing a fever, and reporting a dry cough or difficulty breathing? Without the absolute confirmation that a test would provide, Aptiv errs on the side of safety and has the employee stay home in quarantine for 14 days. HR continues to be in contact with the employee to monitor their health status. In confirmed cases of COVID-19, Aptiv identifies anyone the employee has been in contact with and quarantines them as well. Throughout all of this, Aptiv maintains the privacy of any employees who have been quarantined.
Even with these protocols in place, employees may not be aware that they are carrying the coronavirus, and they may not show symptoms. That’s why other safety protocols – such as social distancing in the workplace, encouraging frequent handwashing, and employing masks – are so important. We encourage employees to practice safe protocols outside of work as well, to protect themselves, their families, and their co-workers. For more on all of these areas, download Aptiv’s complete Safe Operations Protocols document today.