The foodservice industry is currently facing an unprecedented challenge in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic. The crisis has forced businesses to adopt brand new practices and processes to ensure that they can still get food and beverages to customers safely and efficiently. From getting serious about food safety to offering revolutionary services like contactless delivery, there are plenty of strategies restaurants can adopt in order to adapt to these strange circumstances.
Your business can’t afford to get sloppy during this crisis - there are lives and livelihoods at stake. In order to continue protecting employees and customers throughout the COVID-19 crisis, foodservice operators need to remain vigilant. The best way to protect those who depend on you is by acting proactively by employing strategies like COVID-19 wellness reporting for all employees.
What is wellness reporting?
Wellness reporting is a process that checks the health of employees to determine whether they are showing symptoms of COVID-19, or could be otherwise compromised by having had close contact with somebody who has been diagnosed, is presenting symptoms, or has recently traveled. Wellness reporting allows you to effectively identify employees, vendors, maintenance workers, and other essential workers who are at risk of inadvertently spreading the virus to customers and other staff members.
Why is it important?
Taking this proactive measure allows you to protect members of your team by reducing the risk that they’re working in close proximity with a colleague who may have COVID-19. Wellness reporting should be treated as a protective measure that all team members should cooperate with. It can be used to eliminate the risk that the virus is transferred to customers through food packaging, and protect the reputation of your business by reducing the chances of viral spread. When community members ask how you’re responding to the crisis, you can explain the process to them to show that you’re taking the correct steps to protect them.
When should wellness reporting be conducted?
Time is of the essence. Wellness reporting should be conducted as soon as employees (or other essential workers like vendors, delivery drivers, and maintenance workers) arrive at your restaurant. If an employee believes they have developed COVID-19 symptoms during their shift, they can take a self-assessment at break time. It may be wise to enforce the use of self-assessments for all employees, regardless of whether or not they’re showing symptoms.
What does wellness reporting consist of?
The wellness reporting process consists of a questionnaire modeled after customs forms. The COVID-19 questionnaire should consist of the following questions:
- Do you have a fever? (temperature over 38oC or 100.4oF)
- Employee temperatures can be verified by using a disposable single-use clinical thermometer
- Do you have a cough?
- Any difficulty breathing?
- Have you been in close contact with somebody who has been diagnosed with COVID-19?
- Have you recently traveled, or been in contact with somebody who has recently traveled to a high risk area?
If your employees (or other essential workers) answer no to all of the above questions, they pass and can safely begin their shift. We strongly recommend repeating these questions to each employee during their break.
What if an employee fails the COVID-19 wellness report?
If an employee fails the wellness report, they should be sent home immediately, and they should be asked to immediately phone their healthcare provider to explain their symptoms before they visit a healthcare facility. If they don’t have any means of transportation, provide them with a mask to reduce the spread of droplets and arrange transport for them to get back home - they should then go into self-isolation for a period of 14 days.
You should then determine if they’ve worked within two days of the onset of their symptoms, and which employees they may have had close contact with during that time. Those employees should then be sent home to self-isolate for 14 days. Ask everybody affected to remain in contact with you during their isolation so you can stay updated on their condition. Once the originally infected employee is given clearance from their doctor, all employees can safely return to work.
When can employees return to work after a COVID-19 scare?
Employees and other essential workers can’t safely return to your establishment until they are no longer presenting symptoms without the aid of medication, and they’ve had two consecutive negative tests collected a minimum of two days apart. Once these things have been accomplished, employees and essential workers will be able to work without the risk of spreading COVID-19 to customers and colleagues.
How your business can properly document wellness reporting
During these unpredictable times, documentation can go a long way to show that your foodservice business is taking the correct precautions to reduce risk. It’s also important to keep copies of all wellness checks as a record of any actions you’ve taken in the event that they’re needed to help health inspectors in your region perform contact tracing. Records will help identify which employees may have been exposed in the event that an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, allowing you to take quick and decisive action.
In addition to the COVID-19 questions asked to employees at the beginning of their shift and during breaks, ensure that the form has the following elements:
- Employee name and signature
- Date and time of each check
- Supervisor name and signature
By taking the correct proactive measures, you can ensure the safety of your customers and colleagues while continuing to provide the community with a reliable source of food and beverages during these trying times.
FoodSafetyMarket is a leading provider of nationally certified food handler training, infographics, and training supplies. For more information about the online food handler training offered by FoodSafetyMarket, contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.