California/Nevada Employers Conducting Temperature Screens of Employees: Guidance and Tips

By SHLC on May 22, 2020 in Uncategorized
0

As business operations resume and employees return to work, employers are implementing measures to help curb the spread of the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes the disease COVID-19, including employee temperature screenings and other health checks.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has provided guidance permitting employers to measure employees’ body temperature to determine whether they have a fever. Generally, measuring employees’ temperatures is off limits, however this practice is acceptable during this pandemic and even recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC suggests that employers seeking to resume normal or phased business operations conduct daily health checks including temperature screens of employees before they enter the facility. It is best to have a trained medical professional administer the health checks, but it is not mandatory. What is most important is that the health checks be conducted in a manner that protects the employee conducting the temperature screening and reduces the likelihood of viral spread.

The following three procedures are recommended by the CDC as safety-conscious options for conducting employee temperature screenings.

Reliance on social distancing:

  • Ask employees to take their own temperature either before coming to the workplace or upon arrival at the workplace. Upon their arrival, stand at least 6 feet away from the employee.
  • Ask the employee to confirm that their temperature is less than 100.4º F (38.0º C), and confirm that they are not experiencing coughing or shortness of breath.
  • Make a visual inspection of the employee for signs of illness, which could include flushed cheeks or fatigue, and confirm that the employee is not experiencing coughing or shortness of breath.
  • Screening staff do not need to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) if they can maintain a distance of 6 feet.

Reliance on barrier/partition controls:

  • Upon arrival, the screener should wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or, if soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • During screening, the screener stands behind a physical barrier, such as a glass or plastic window or partition, that can protect the screener’s face and mucous membranes from respiratory droplets that may be produced when the employee sneezes, coughs, or talks.
  • Make a visual inspection of the employee for signs of illness, which could include flushed cheeks or fatigue.
  • Conduct temperature and symptom screening using this protocol:
    • Put on disposable gloves.
    • If possible, use a disposable or non-contact thermometer to check the employee’s temperature, reaching around the partition or through the window. Make sure the screener’s face stays behind the barrier at all times during the screening.
    • If performing a temperature check on multiple individuals, make sure that you use a clean pair of gloves for each employee. However if disposable or non-contact thermometers are used and you did not have physical contact with an individual, you do not need to change gloves before the next check. If non-contact thermometers are used, clean and disinfect them according to manufacturer’s instructions and facility policies.
  • Remove and discard PPE (gloves), and wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Reliance on personal protective equipment (PPE):

  • Upon arrival, the screener should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, put on a facemask, eye protection (goggles or disposable face shield that fully covers the front and sides of the face), and a single pair of disposable gloves. A gown should be considered if extensive contact with an employee is anticipated.
  • Make a visual inspection of the employee for signs of illness, which could include flushed cheeks or fatigue, and confirm that the employee is not experiencing coughing or shortness of breath.
  • Take the employee’s temperature using a disposable or non-contact thermometer if possible.
    • If performing a temperature check on multiple individuals, make sure that you use a clean pair of gloves for each. However, if disposable or non-contact thermometers are used and you did not have physical contact with an individual, you do not need to change gloves before the next check. If non-contact thermometers are used, you should clean and disinfect them according to manufacturer’s instructions and facility policies.
  • After each screening, remove and discard PPE and wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. (3).

It is best to make employee health checks as private as possible and to administer them in a non-discriminatory fashion. Employers should not pick and choose who must undergo temperature screens unless it is part of a nondiscriminatory scheme. Furthermore, the results of the temperature screen must be maintained confidentially as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in a file separate from the employee’s personnel file.

Specific counties in California have issued orders requiring temperature screens of employees in certain sectors. For example, Los Angeles County requires that staff in long-term care facilities and healthcare personnel be screened for their temperatures, while San Francisco County broadens this temperature-screening mandate to reach healthcare facilities, child care programs, and shelters, among others. The Los Angeles County order can be viewed here: http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/Coronavirus/docs/HOO/HOO_Coronavirus_LicensedFacilities_04.24.20.pdf. For guidance from the San Francisco Department of public health on measuring temperatures, visit https://www.sfcdcp.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/COVID19-Temperature-Screening-Guidance-FINAL-5.18.2020.pdf.

**If your business decides to screen employees, but is not required to by law, it is best practice to follow guidance set out by the CDC (as provided above).

There are many types of instruments for taking temperatures. In choosing which instrument to use, employers should consider that disposable and non-contact thermometers minimize the risk of inadvertently transmitting the virus.  Employers should also consider privacy implications of using certain high-tech devices. Some of the more advanced temperature-measuring devices may store data and are capable of facial recognition which could pose privacy concerns and potentially violate state privacy laws.

To limit some of the risk associated with potential privacy concerns, be sure to give employees notice of your temperature screening policy and procedure.

And don’t forget that in both California and Nevada, in order to comply with wage and hour laws, it is recommended that employees be compensated for any time spent waiting to be screened and while being screened. If employers do not compensate their employees for this time, liability may arise.

 

 

Resources:

https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/pandemic-preparedness-workplace-and-americans-disabilities-act

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fspecific-groups%2Fguidance-business-response.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/general-business-faq.html

https://nvhealthresponse.nv.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Industry-specific-Guidance-Documents-1.pdf

https://www.sfcdcp.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/COVID19-Temperature-Screening-Guidance-FINAL-5.18.2020.pdf

https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-coronavirus

https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/pandemic-preparedness-workplace-and-americans-disabilities-act

About the Author

SHLCView all posts by SHLC