Is Contact Tracing the Right Tool for Your Company to Help Combat COVID-19 Spread?
How do we protect employees at work post-pandemic? Contact tracing might be part of the answer.
- By Lauren Holman
- May 28, 2020
As restrictions are eased and much of the United States begins to spend more time outside and in groups, health officials continue to monitor the new ways in which the virus could be transmitted. Governments and health authorities have encouraged and enforced social distancing from others to stop of the spread of COVID-19 over the past three months. However, US citizens are now doing their part to slow the spread through new social practices. We are advised to continue to maintain a distance of at least six feet or two meters. Furthermore, it’s important to keep avoiding large gatherings and any close-contact interactions with people who do not already live with you. Only travel if it is essential to do so. And lastly, continue to work from home if you can.
Keep Your People Safe with Contact Tracing
As nation-wide restrictions are eased, and numerous business begin the transition back to the office, employers and employees will become vulnerable to an entirely new collection of hazards associated with potential COVID-19 exposure. Although many industries will be more than happy to return to the office, the new working environment will be different. Equipped with new safety precautions, such as cleaning, new protective equipment, and of course, the rule that staff maintain a physical distance of at least two meters from other people – the US workforce will need to adjust to continue the prevention of the virus spreading in the workplace. One of the most effective ways to minimize your company’s exposure to COVID-19 is the use of contact tracing.
A seemingly novel concept, contact tracing is a key weapon that has actually been used for years as a means to combat pandemics and communicable diseases such as polio, smallpox, Ebola and tuberculosis. Simply put, contact tracing has effectively saved millions of lives around the world and will continue to be a useful tool in combatting COVID-19. Contact tracing accurately pinpoints anyone who has (or may have) come in contact with an infected person, tests that vulnerable individual for infection, and then proceeds to treat them if an infection is confirmed. Contact tracing is a monumental tool in not only finding, but also isolating new cases before they have the opportunity to spread.
No External Devices Needed
Safety companies have simply added to its current system and effectively implemented an in-app contact tracing feature. To aid employers and public health professionals, this business intelligence feature does not require the any other external device or software. The in-app feature alone effectively monitors, tracks and prevents the virus’ spread using real-time data. Thousands of American workers will be kept safe simply by using their GPS-enabled smartphones, equipped with proven check- in monitoring, GPS location and tracking, and motion features including man-down, fall-detection and shake-for-emergency.
Use Real-Time Data to Generate Comprehensive Reports
Managers can see a worker’s location history and keep real-time records of the people and places they interacted with. For example, Scatterling’s Business Intelligence feature will allow your company to create a running list of all users and their respective inter-company and external interactions. The contact tracing feature will also generate a report if an employee has come within two meters of another employee. The main goal of this report is to serve as a tool that allows your organization to access the interactions of each worker, as well as the respective proximities of each employee.
Be Aware of Who Is Complying
One limitation to contact tracing is its inability to predict the exact location that a virus could occur in your company. However, it can easily identify team members who are failing to comply with precautionary measures, such as maintaining their two-meter distance. This intel will allow you to be proactive in pinpointing employees who might be playing a role in spreading the virus. It’s important to know if someone within your organization is not respecting precautionary measures, because then you will be able to consult the individual one-on-one. You can use this opportunity to potentially implement customized safety measures in place and once again reduce the probability of an infectious spread within your business.
Identify High-Risk Areas
Similar to the identification of high-risk individuals, contact tracing is useful in tracking physical locations that regularly facilitate unsafe contact. Common areas such as the photocopy room or the lunchroom are likely to be labeled “high-risk.” Being aware of the risks associated with specific areas in your building will allow you to then put specific mitigation measures in place. For instance, one person is allowed at any given time in the lunchroom. Proactively taking steps to limit your workers’ exposure in the workplace will play a significant role in keeping everyone safe and preventing the spread of the virus.
Contact Tracing Privacy Considerations
The contact tracing feature must be enabled voluntarily on each employee’s smart phone and requires clear consent from the user. Furthermore, individual locations of users will not be tracked unless the user gives their explicit permission to do so. Contact tracing is designed with the user’s health and privacy in mind. Therefore, any data recorded will only be used for public health purposes.
Save Your Most Valuable Resource: Time
Time is especially valuable during any crisis – a pandemic is no exception. Contact tracing for COVID-19 has been done manually in the past. This process was extremely time consuming and resource intensive because it required the valuable time of public health staff and/or volunteers and efforts to track the movements of patients and their recent contacts. Not only was this process an extensive amount of work, it was also prone to human error and discrepancies. As much of the US begins to slowly come out of quarantine and community contact naturally increases, the efforts required to track individual contacts become exponential. That is why many safety companies in North America and Internationally, Scatterling included, have successfully automated their contact tracing feature to save you and your company time and to allow you to carry on with business as usual.
It’s Time to Come Together
While proactively protecting your team members, contact tracing inadvertently protects your community as well. An effective tool that acts against the spread and contamination of COVID-19 (and all other infections and viruses) will be a necessary addition to all US workplaces as the economy begins to re-open. Doing your part to help stop the spread of COVID-19 is essential, especially as businesses begin to transition back to the office and contact points are increased substantially. As we move into the next phase, contact tracing will be our weapon to keep the curve flat.