Contact tracing on job sites is serious business
By Nathan Dunn, CEO, BlueCatsMarch 26, 2021
Additional Payroll Protection Program (PPP) funding in the United States gave small- to medium-size businesses much-needed capital to help them navigate the lingering effects of the year-long and counting Covid-19 pandemic.
Companies with 300 or fewer employees can use the funding to buy Covid safety devices under the program. These devices include those used for contact tracing, which facilitates identifying anyone who came into close contact with someone with Covid so everyone involved can be alerted to the potential exposure.
Before the introduction of contact tracing technology, the process of tracking down people was an arduous one. It generally required an outside group such as a health department to handle the process.
As the workplace experiences a significant transformation in the wake of the pandemic, technology will play an indispensable role in protecting workers.
Many businesses deemed essential — including construction companies — continued to operate throughout the pandemic, altering operations as needed to comply with government mandates and social distancing requirements. While some team members may have worked remotely, many workers were required to be on site.
Even those businesses that transitioned to wide-scale or complete remote working, after a year of quarantines, lockdowns, and other precautionary measures, are gearing up for a broader return to the workplace. Success necessitates businesses to have a thought-out plan and take firm action.
The post-pandemic work experience
Most experts are aligned around the belief that Covid will be with the world for the long term. To learn to coexist with the virus, businesses must take decisive steps to mitigate any potential adverse effects.
As McKinsey recently observed, “jobs in work arenas with higher levels of physical proximity are likely to see greater transformation after the pandemic.” These industries include healthcare, personal care, and retail, where much like in construction, workers cannot work remotely.
A study out of California found, in part, that “essential work is a likely venue of transmission of coronavirus infection.” But, when workers are considered essential, they can’t avoid heading to the workplace.
To return, workers need a clean, safe environment to make a return to work possible. The obligation is on the business owners to keep them safe.
The vaccine will not solve every problem
The vaccine is a positive step in fighting Covid, but companies should not presume everyone will want to or be able to take
a Covid vaccine. A Morning Consult poll of thousands of U.S. employees discovered less than six in 10 (56%) employed adults indicated they would get a vaccine. The rate ranged from less than half (47%) in food and beverage to more than three-quarters (77%) in higher education.
The Morning Consult poll also revealed slightly more than half (53%) of construction workers planned to receive the vaccine. That rate trails the overall average for employed adults.
As ProBuilder reported, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled, “employers could require workers to get the vaccine, with certain exceptions.” Even companies requiring employees to receive vaccinations will have someone on their team who cannot get the vaccine for various reasons, whether it be a health concern or religious objection.
Even if someone does, it is not an assurance they will not contract Covid.
The safer bet is to presume everyone on the job site will not receive the vaccine. Therefore, keeping track of Covid-positive people is critical to success in the face of new business realities. The quicker a team can identify people at risk, the sooner normal operations can resume.
Contact tracing helps companies avoid total shutdowns if someone on their team contracts Covid. They can swiftly identify anyone who might be at risk and begin the infected team member’s quarantining process, along with anyone else who may have been exposed.
The path forward requires technology
The world will not remain in quarantine endlessly, and many jurisdictions are taking steps to reopen.
Even if many industries, such as professional services and traditional office jobs, remain principally virtual following the pandemic, workers in these segments will still go to stores, restaurants, and medical facilities as a part of whatever version of the “new normal” that emerges.
To evade future closings or other limitations on teams and business functions, organizations must act now to future-proof their businesses. The pandemic and its impact on operations continue to evolve, and potential crises may arise in the future.
Workplaces will play a crucial role in hindering the virus’s spread, and technology is the partner construction organizations can lean on to help them overcome the pandemic’s possibly catastrophic effects.
Several offerings enable organizations to rapidly deploy a solution to track team members who may have been exposed to Covid. Among them is BlueCats’ SafetyTags Ultra-Wideband (UWB) Contact Tracing Solution. It enables closed-shop organizations to simplify the tracing process reliably and affordably, without requiring any personal information.
Based on expert opinions in recent news articles, Covid will likely remain with the world for some time. Even if the influence of Covid is reduced and jurisdictions begin to reopen, organizations should prepare.
With so much ambiguity still remaining, organizations need reliable and easy-to-use technology. It must alleviate workers’ uncertainties, so they can confidently return to the job site and concentrate on helping businesses meet their goals rather than worry about endangering their health.
No one should be faced with such a choice
While contact tracing does require a capital outlay, that expenditure can save companies from stress — and a potentially more significant cost — stemming from an outbreak of the virus.
Amid the pandemic, the world has sufficient stress in it. Why not alleviate at least a little with the prudent deployment of technology?