Workplace Medicine Australia is urging large businesses to leverage technology and medical expertise to mitigate the risk of a ‘second wave’ COVID-19 outbreak.
Workplace Medicine Australia Medical Director Dr Scott Allison said as businesses across Australia commence their usual operations following a period of forced shutdown or working from home, ensuring a safe and healthy workplace is more important than ever.
“Presenting at work ill, or taking time off work while unwell, has a multi-billion-dollar effect on the economy at the best of times,” Dr Allison said.
“The introduction of COVID-19, on top of the usual cold and flu type sickness we see in the workplace, puts businesses and the Australian economy at even greater risk.
“There is a sense of concern amongst employers and employees alike, regarding a second-wave outbreak of COVID-19. Screening for illness in the workplace is essential to keep up the great progress we’ve made and maintain a safe workplace environment.”
Workplace absenteeism costs the Australian business economy approximately $7 billion annually  or $3,608 per employee, per year .
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Employees not being able to fully function at work due to illness, known as presenteeism, has an even greater effect, costing businesses and the economy around $34 billion annually.
“Australia has seen multiple cases of employees entering the workplace whilst infected with COVID-19, forcing entire organisations and buildings to quarantine employees and close down for extended periods.
“It is crucial that businesses have streamlined processes to identify possible cases of COVID-19 and other respiratory tract illnesses so that workers can be isolated and cared for with minimal disruption to productivity.”
Workplace Medicine Australia has partnered with national engineering firm, ADG Engineers (Aust) Pty Ltd to develop a digital screening and medical consultation process. The platform enables businesses to provide a holistic health and wellbeing solution, including testing, assessment, diagnosis and care plan for employees who are unwell.
“Our platform uses confidential and secure thermal body scanning technology to detect and support employees who present in the workplace with a fever or possible respiratory tract infection, therefore identifying early signs of major health concerns such as COVID-19 or influenza.
“Employees that have been identified as being at risk of infection receive an immediate, private video consultation with a doctor, who will arrange testing and further action as appropriate.
“Importantly, we provide confidential aggregated data to the employer, enabling customised metrics to suit the organisation’s reporting needs. This helps employers create a well-informed plan to manage their individual absenteeism and presentism concerns.”
The confidential service utilises best practice medical protocols, as set out by the Royal Australian College of General Practice (RACGP) and Australian Government approved COVID-19 testing processes.
The Melbourne Metro Rail Infrastructure Alliance will be deploying the screening system in their site office compound later this week.
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- Economic Modelling of the Cost of Presenteeism in Australia: 2011 Update (Medibank, KPMG Econtech)
- AIG Absenteeism & Presenteeism Survey Report 2015