If you don’t document it, it didn’t happen.
The FDA has recently stated that restaurants should start Pre-Screening their employees and taking their temperatures to determine if the employee is safe to work that shift.
This is an update to current ADA procedures Section 501. This guidance was updated because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I fully expect that this will change when we come out of this pandemic as it did after the SARS pandemic in 2009.
The immediate question is how should you undertake the pre-screening of employees? The larger question is what else should I be documenting around my COVID-19 response.
I’m going to argue that you document all of it.
A lot of you are sighing out loud right now because documentation is boring and a pain in the butt.
Documentation, especially when using a checklist, or checklist program, is very easy to do, because completing a checklist is self-documenting.
I’m growing increasingly concerned that COVID-19 is going to spur a lot of legal actions in the near future. I believe we are not seeing these legal actions today because of the following reasons:
- We are all being asked to stay home and self-isolate.
- We are in the middle of the outbreak and there is no way to figure out where or whom you got COVID-19 from.
- These new guidances, pre-screening of employees, is brand new.
- We haven’t had a chance to see how the negative pre-screen of an employee that is sent home for being ill conflicts with some of the more restrictive labor laws that you see in places like Seattle and California.
- Those will probably be decided in the courts in the next couple of months.
Soon, in the next couple of weeks/months, as we are released from this mandatory self-isolation. We are going to be out and about again and the COVID-19 virus is still going to be very active.
Part of the strategy moving forward to deal with people infected with COVID-19 is going to be the practice of testing, self-isolation, and contact tracing.
I literally heard Dr. Fauci on the daily White House press conference yesterday talking about contact tracing. He was stating that the government will release the stay at home orders when:
- When the virus is not as active in an area
- When they have the medical supplies and hospital bandwidth to handle an outbreak.
- When they have the contact tracing system in place.
Here is a description of Contact Tracing from the World Health Organization. A quick summary of it, is that when you get tested positive for COVID-19:
- Contact Identification: the government asks you to identify all the people you have been in contact with and places you have gone.
- Contact Listing: Identified contacts are added a list and contacted about their exposure to you. They are asked to take the appropriate medical steps.
- Contact Follow-up: people are tracked for symptoms etc..
Once we enter this phase of our COVID-19 response and absent any new laws that state you can’t sue a person for spreading COVID-19, which I don’t know if we’ll see, people are going to be able to trace back where they got COVID-19 from. There will be epicenters at places/events or it will be traced to people who infected a lot of other people.
If you want to see something chilling check out this Reuter’s article about patient 31 in South Korea.
I think once people can assign blame for getting COVID-19 and quantify their financial losses from being isolated or medical bills. I believe we’ll start to see a lot more law suits around this stuff.
So that is why I’m very much in support of self-documenting your COVID-19 procedures to help protect your business from potential litigation. This can be accomplished by creating checklists and forms to use in your business highlighting your procedures.
Also, remember that with any new process or documentation strategy, consistent execution will always show your commitment and due diligence. It is better to do something less times a day but to do it consistently than to require it be doe more times a day and not have 100% compliance.
Now let’s be clear, my assumption in all of this, is that you are doing the right things to protect your customers, employees, and your brand. If you are and you are documenting those steps as well, it could potentially help you in any kind of government review or legal action.
I’m not a lawyer, if you are concerned you should contact yours, but this just seems logical to me.
How can OpsAnalitica help you with this documentation?
The OpsAnalitica Platform is the ultimate Restaurant Operations and documentation platform. Our goal is always to do the following:
- Take the guesswork out of any process.
- Guide the employee through the process and identify in real-time any remediation actions.
- Act as a self documentation platform, storing all completed checklists digitally for review.
- Notifying management when a process has not been completed or critical violations were detected.
We have created an Employee Health Verification Process that you can use to document your employee COVID-19 Pre Screen questionnaire including the taking of temperatures. Also, we have a Sick Employee and Customer incident forms that you can use to record the actions your took when you identified either a sick employee or customer.
All of these forms are fully customizable and available for free through May of 2020, no strings attached. In addition, we will set your organization up for free so you can take advantage of this system immediately.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about the OpsAnalitica Platform, please initiate a chat in the bottom right hand corner of the screen.