Businesses pushed to prepare for ‘second wave’ of COVID-19

With state governments winding back coronavirus restrictions, many businesses, including mining companies, are being advised to implement screening measures to avoid a second-wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) executive director, Mike Ryan, said in a media briefing that while most of the world was still experiencing the first wave of infections, a second wave could be yet to come.

“Right now, we’re not in the second wave. We’re right in the middle of the first wave globally. But countries could still find themselves experiencing a second peak during the overall first wave — if their cases drop and then rise again, while global cases are still on an upward trend,” Dr Ryan noted.

Workplace Medicine Australia, which operates alongside Australian corporations to implementworkplace safety, has urged 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 ensuring a safe and healthy workplace is more important than ever as people return to work in physical environments.

“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, according to a 2011 Economic Modelling of the Cost of Presenteeism in Australia: 2011 Update from Medibank and KPMG Econtech.

Employees not being able to fully function while at work due to illness, which is known as presenteeism, has an even greater effect and costs the economy around $34 billion annually, as stated in the AIG Absenteeism & Presenteeism Survey Report 2015.

Workplace Medicine Australia has partnered with national engineering firm, ADG Engineers 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 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.