This article will discuss the following:
- COVID-19 risk factors;
- COVID-19 (Coronavirus) vaccines;
- assessing asymptomatic close contacts;
- logistics challenges of infection control;
- how to mitigate COVID-19 risks effectively; and
- free, ready-to-use COVID risk assessment tool and COVID-19 vaccine checklists.
While the risk factor with the most impact overall (in terms of COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and death) is age, there are a number of other known risk factors such as race/ethnicity and certain medical conditions. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), specific ethnicities have a higher risk of COVID-19 infection compared to others. Data has also shown that adults who are pregnant, smoking, obese, severely obese or with Type 2 diabetes, heart conditions, immunocompromised state from solid organ transplant, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, sickle cell disease, down syndrome, and cancer are at an increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus, regardless of age.
The CDC also notes that individuals with any underlying medical condition (even those not stated above) should consult with their doctors regarding their personal risk factors including age, race/ethnicity, gender, and use of certain medications. Non-personal risk factors, such as certain occupations, poverty, and overcrowding, have been identified by the CDC, but the exact nature of these risks is much more difficult to specify due to the wide variety of jobs, workplaces, and living situations. Despite these challenges, non-personal risk factors should also be considered because limiting the scope to personal risk factors doesn’t provide the bigger picture and may lead to missed opportunities to discover more about the virus and how it spreads.
- High-risk setting (during a pandemic surge) and low-risk setting (in between surges)
- Local viral transmission rates (including variation in community prevalence)
- How the individual commutes
- Workplace factors (disease prevalence within facilities or workplace behaviors)
- Strength of mitigation measures (inability to isolate infected workers or lack of PPE)
At the time of writing, there are only three COVID-19 vaccines authorized and recommended for use in the United States. These are the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.
Since the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are of the same vaccine type (mRNA), they share many similarities, including side effects and recommendations on who should not receive the vaccines. Those who have had a severe allergic reaction or an immediate allergic reaction to any ingredient in an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine or are allergic to PEG or polysorbate should not receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.
The most common side effects of these two vaccines are pain, swelling, and redness in the arm where the vaccine was injected, headache, chills, and tiredness throughout the rest of the body. According to the CDC, these side effects start within a day or two of getting the vaccine, but should subside in a few days.
Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is of a different vaccine type known as a viral vector. However, similar to the previous two vaccines, those who have had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient of the Janssen vaccine should not receive it.
The Janssen vaccine also has more or less the same side effects as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. According to the FDA Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers, side effects of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine include:
- Injection site reactions: pain, redness of the skin, and swelling.
- General side effects: headache, feeling very tired, muscle aches, nausea, and fever.
Taking all of these things into consideration, the benefits of receiving COVID-19 vaccination far outweigh the risks, unless one has had an allergic reaction to any of the vaccine ingredients or is confirmed to be allergic to PEG or polysorbate.
If any employee is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, evaluate first which employees have had possible close contact (within 6 feet for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) with said person and inform them immediately while maintaining confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act or any other applicable law.
CDC recommends instructing potentially exposed employees to stay home for 14 days and self-monitor for symptoms, even if both the employee suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 and their close contacts were wearing masks and were not experiencing any symptoms at the time of exposure. This recommendation is based on growing evidence of transmission risk from infected people without symptoms (asymptomatic) or before the onset of recognized symptoms (presymptomatic).
If it has been less than 7 days since an employee suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 has been in the workplace, close off any areas used for prolonged periods of time by said person, open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in these areas, and wait 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting.
Here are a few additional steps to take to reduce or stop the spread of coronavirus in the workplace:
- Increase physical space between employees through the placement of partitions.
- Assign someone to clean and disinfect surfaces.
- Schedule handwashing breaks.
- Provide flexible sick leave policies.
Implementing such infection control procedures can be tedious and overwhelming, especially for employers in industries where telework or working remotely is not possible. In the end, similar to receiving COVID-19 vaccination, the benefits of these safety measures far outweigh the risks. Aside from the personal effects of a COVID-19 outbreak on the lives of employees, its impact on overall business operations should not go unnoticed, nor should it be underestimated.
- Completely digital, involving no paper or in-person meetings
- Flexible and easily adaptable to your business structure
- Trustworthy and reliable, with offline capabilities
iAuditor by SafetyCulture is a digital health and safety inspection platform that businesses of all sizes and industries can use to help manage COVID-19 infection in the workplace through effective risk mitigation. iAuditor has consistently gained recognition as an Occupational Health & Safety solution, even recently winning as the Best SaaS product in this category. It also has the following features:
- Free COVID-19 risk assessments and other templates
- Robust inspections creation, scheduling, and analytics
- Secure COVID-19 document management with specific access rules
Get started for free with iAuditor today, or download any of our featured COVID-19 risk assessment templates below for free.
Disclaimer: Please note that these templates and checklists are hypothetical examples, provided on a non-site specific and generic basis, and only for informational purposes. They are not intended to take the place of medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. By using or downloading any of the templates or checklists, you are doing so at your own risk. You acknowledge that each template or checklist is not a substitute for professional advice. You should also seek professional advice to determine if the use of such templates and checklists is permissible in your workplace or jurisdiction.
COVID Risk Assessment Tool Templates
COVID Risk Assessment Tool - Workplace Infection Control
Use this COVID-Risk Assessment Tool (based on the CDC’s Non-Healthcare Workplace Infection Control Assessment and Response (WICAR) tool) to do the following:
- Collect relevant information on the facility such as number of workers, shifts, and breaks
- Take into consideration infection control measures being implemented in employer-sponsored transportation and housing
- Check if plans have been developed in case of higher absenteeism due to COVID-19
- Ensure that leave policies are flexible, non-punitive, and encourage sick employees and close contacts to stay home
- Review employee and visitor health screening procedures
- Evaluate engineering and administrative controls
COVID Risk Assessment Tool - Workplace Priority Level
Use this COVID Risk Assessment Tool (based on the CDC’s Example Prioritization Questions for Non-Healthcare Worksite Assessments) to do the following:
- Investigate the need for follow up and greater attention and/or resources
- Interview employees regarding the safety of the worksite from COVID-19
- Take note of the worksite’s compliance with fundamental COVID-19 prevention protocols
Social Distancing Plan Template for Workplaces
This social distancing plan template can serve as a pandemic business planning tool to help employers in implementing strict social distancing measures in workplaces, especially those that are categorized as essential businesses.
Contact Tracing Form
A contact tracing form is a document that helps health professionals determine who a sick person caught an illness from and track every possible person they have been in contact with while infectious. Use this contact tracing form template to:
- Ensure privacy and confidentiality of significant volumes of patient or visitor information;
- Improve legibility of crucial contact tracing data;
- Improve traceability of data with data saved in cloud storage;
- Have the ability to send notifications in multiple formats, such as email and SMS to intended recipients; and
- Easily use the forms on a mobile device, whether online or offline.
Preview the PDF report to see an accomplished contact tracing form template for a sample case in NSW (New South Wales).
Employee Temperature Log Sheet
Use this employee temperature log sheet to keep a record of employees’ temperature whenever they report in for work. Log as many temperature records as needed. This employee temperature log sheet template recognizes 100.3°F as the threshold and prompts a visual cue for 100.4°F and above temperature readings. iAuditor templates can be edited (such as changing °F to °C) to fit the needs of your organization.
COVID-19 Vaccine Checklist
Use this COVID-19 vaccine checklist (based on FDA Fact Sheets of Authorized Vaccines) to do the following:
- Assess whether you should receive the vaccine based on previous allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccine ingredients or to a previous dose of the vaccine
- Provide information on your current medical condition such as allergies not related to COVID-19 vaccines, fever, bleeding disorder, compromised immune system, use of a blood thinner and/or medicine that affects your immune system, pregnancy, breastfeeding, as well as having received another COVID-19 vaccine
COVID-19 Vaccine Checklist (Screening)
Use this COVID-19 vaccine checklist (based on the CDC’s Prevaccination Checklist for COVID-19 Vaccines) to do the following:
- Determine if there is any reason this person should not get the COVID-19 vaccine today
- Be informed if this person has ever tested positive for COVID-19 and if they have ever received passive antibody therapy as treatment for COVID-19
- Give additional context on what a severe allergic reaction entails, other possible allergies unrelated to the vaccine, and diseases that cause weakened immune systems
COVID-19 Vaccine Storage and Handling Checklist (Pfizer-BioNTech)
- Prepare for receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
- Unpack the thermal shipping container using photo references taken from Pfizer-BioNTech guidelines
- Discard dry ice safely using the correct procedure
COVID-19 Vaccine Storage and Handling Checklist (Moderna)
Use this COVID-19 vaccine storage and handling checklist (based on the CDC’s Storage and Handling Summary for the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine) to do the following:
- Examine the shipment for signs of damage
- Remove and check the TagAlert temperature monitoring device
- Store the vaccine at the proper temperatures (in Celsius or Fahrenheit)
COVID Risk Assessment Tool - Workplace Readiness
Use this COVID Risk Assessment Tool (based on the CDC’s Restart Readiness Checklist) to do the following:
1) Prevent and reduce transmission among employees
- Monitor federal, state, and local public health communications about COVID-19
- Reinforce how employees can protect themselves and others from COVID-19
- Develop an action plan for suspected/confirmed cases
2) Maintain healthy business operations
- Identify a coordinator who will be responsible for addressing the impact of COVID-19 issues on the workplace
- Plan for employee absenteeism spikes
- Delegate authority to local managers of your business locations
3) Maintain a healthy work environment
- Implement controls to protect employees and the public
- Supply employees with what they need to keep clean
- Perform routine cleaning and disinfecting