News and Updates
Companies should be prepared to comply with the following vaccination and testing mandates with deadlines coming soon!
With 100s and 1000s of employee records to track, administrators need a scalable solution to meet record keeping and reporting requirements. We can help you get up and running in as little as a day!
Compliant COVID-19 Testing Options for Employers
Evaluating testing solutions to comply with vaccine and testing mandates? We can help you manage a testing program.
How You Can Support OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Test ETS
What are the key takeaways from OSHA’s COVID-19 ETS? The recent rule outlines vaccination and testing requirements for employers.
Did you know?
We have an integration with UKG
As a partner with UKG, we can provide integrations with their platform for our customers. Many companies have a dynamic workforce. The employee directory information is updated directly from UKG PRO to ensure administrators have a consistent and current employee roster in ReturnSafe.
About our Vaccine Validation Services
Want to distance yourself from employee vaccine records? In addition to the tools we provide for administrators to internally validate vaccine status, we can also do this on your behalf. A member of our team will ensure vaccine records are uploaded and the data is input correctly. In the next few months, automatic digital validation will be available to augment the manual process. Contact us if you’re interested in learning more.
Watch our On-Demand Webinar
How Companies Are Implementing Vaccine and Testing Mandates
Are you evaluating solutions to meet the ETS requirements? Check out our SHRM webinar to hear how companies in the field are supporting vaccine and testing mandates and the tools that are helping them stay compliant.
Are you interested in learning more about our solution features?
Book a demo to try our tools! Learn more about vaccine tracking, weekly testing and case management
As mentioned in our previous blog there are a variety of testing options available for employers to comply with the vaccine and testing mandate requirements. In this blog, we will take a deep dive into each approach to help you identify the best testing option for your organization. We will also show how ReturnSafe supports your testing program and enables administrators to manage weekly testing requirements at scale.
Although for weekly testing, the onus is not on employers to create a testing program, it is still the employers responsibility to track this data. If employees are left on their own to select tests, it can become burdensome for HR to track test results from different providers. Providing one or two options for all employees enables consistent and cohesive compliance with the testing requirements.
Which testing option is right for you?
The right testing option for your organization depends on a variety of factors including your company’s budget, number of employees, employee density, accuracy objective, preferred test type (PCR vs, Antigen, etc), and preferred method of test administration (e.g. at home, at office, at POC facility).
Here are a few key questions to consider when designing your testing program.
- How does the employee acquire the test?
Employers should consider how easily accessible each test option is. Employers can access tests via several methods, they can buy Over-the-Counter (OTC) tests online or in store and ship them to employees, have employees get tested at Point-of-Care (POC) facilities, or purchase tests at bulk and provide them to employees at work. However, there are pros and cons to each option. For example, it may be difficult for employees to travel to get a COVID-19 test versus being shipped a test or getting tested at work.
- How is the test administered?
Tests can be self-administered or administered by a proctor. If you choose a test that is self-administered, then it cannot be self-read (see next question). A proctor can be a teleheath professional, a medical professional or a staff member in the employer organization. Both the administration and result reading processes are vulnerable to user error which can be aided by employers providing clear instructional materials and support for employees.
- How is the test result read?
Test results are read by a lab (e.g., PCR tests), self read by the employee taking the test, or by a proctor observing the test results. The ETS vaccine and testing mandate requires that a test cannot be both self-read and self-administered. If the results are self-read, then the test needs to be administered by a proctor and vice versa.
- How can you track and store the test results as required by the ETS and other vaccine and testing mandates?
Before answering this question employers must first decide the recordkeeping system they are using to comply with vaccine and testing mandates. This system has to be secure as it is storing employee health information and uploading test results should be simple and straightforward. ReturnSafe is a HIPAA compliant test tracking solution. Through our platform, employee test results can be sent via photo upload, .csv, or through API integrations with the testing solution.
Below we have listed each compliant COVID-19 testing solution, evaluating their benefits and drawbacks.
Option 1: Use a test that is virtually proctored and digitally read
Currently the only testing option that provides these services is the BD Veritor At Home Digital Test Kit. It is an OTC Antigen Test. ReturnSafe can integrate with BD so employees send their test results directly to our platform.
- No proctor is needed, the results are digitally read via a mobile application
- Cost effective – the test comes in a package of 2 for $26, making it $13 for each test
- Get results quickly – within 15 min
- Tests are easily accessible to order on Amazon
- Potential for user error on sample collection, training or easily accessible informational materials can ease this
Option 2: On-Site Proctoring of OTC tests
Employers can choose a proctor who will aid in administering and reading test results at the office before employees enter. Employees and the proctor can sign off on the test result for verification.
- Cost effective, any affordable OTC test can be used for this method (Lucira Check It COVID-19 Test Kit, Abbot BinaxNow, Quidel QuickVue, CareStart COVID-19 Antigen Test)
- Tests are easily accessible at the office, reducing the burden on the employee
- Get results quickly – within 15 min
- Employers can ensure everyone entering the office has received a negative test result
- Employers need to have a proctor who dedicates time to this process, and employees will have to dedicate time either during or before work for this process
- It could be uncomfortable for employees to see other employees swab their noses
- Additional cost for Proctor (approximately $50/hr for a proctor). Our Partner Meenta, can set up proctoring services for you.
Option 3: Use an OTC Antigen Test with Proctored Solution at home
One option is the Abbott Labs BinaxNow which can be used in tandem with a proctored solution – such as a video proctoring process. With ReturnSafe, employers can offer at home tests which employees can order directly through our solution.
- Video proctoring ensures the tests comply with ETS regulations
- At home tests can be easily ordered by or shipped to employees
- Video proctoring is costly and can easily become a difficult process to manage for employees
Option 4: Testing at a Point of Care (POC) Facility
There are many external testing providers including well-known larger organizations like CVS and Walgreens.
- No concerns of employee testing administration or result verification errors
- You can use either PCR or Antigen tests
- Tests are costly – can cost between $120 and $180 dollars per test
- Employees will have to take time outside of work to travel to the facility and take the test
Option 5: OTC PCR test with Results from Mail-in Test
Amazon has a PCR testing kit where employees can submit and receive results within 24 hours of the sample arriving at their lab.
- The test result is verified by a lab
- PCR is gold standard in test quality and accuracy
- More expensive and longer test turnaround time than Antigen testing options
Now that we’ve reviewed each option it is now up to you and your team to decide which tests are best for your organization. However, complying with the ETS and other vaccine and testing mandate requirements does not end here. Employers will have to identify the unvaccinated employees who will require testing and keep a record of their weekly test results.
How can employers meet the test tracking requirements? The next section of our blog will focus on this.
Meeting OSHA’s testing requirements at scale
Under OSHA’s ETS HR will need to do the following of
- Keep track of employees weekly test results
- Ensure employees utilize tests that are not both read and self administered
- Identify positive cases and immediately remove them from the building
- Manage unvaccinated employees 90 day testing hold if they were diagnosed as positive for COVID-19
Managing 1000s of employees’ data on spreadsheets when their testing status and results are changing on a constant basis places a great burden on your team. Additionally, the employee health records need to be stored in a secure database. ReturnSafe’s digital test tracking solution makes it easy for HR to comply with OSHA’s ETS requirements.
Test results can easily be uploaded into our platform in one of three ways: uploading a test result document, a .csv, or an API integration with a testing solution.
See our test tracking solution in action!
The ReturnSafe Command Center has powerful reporting capabilities which help administrators get the information necessary to comply with state, local, and federal regulations. Employers can identify employees who need to get tested and monitor their testing status through the Command Center.
Stay ahead of positive cases with Case Manager
With Case Manager, employers can immediately identify who has tested positive for COVID-19 and remove them from the workplace as well as exclude them from weekly testing for 90 days, depending on company policy, per the ETS requirements. They can also see potential and cleared COVID-19 cases.
Enhanced reporting capabilities to make it even easier for employers to manage compliance with vaccine and testing mandates.. We are working on features that allow administrators to generate custom reports across multiple data points in the system including vaccine, testing, and screening with actions like filtering, bulk notifications and more!
COVID-19 Testing Solutions for Employers
The chart below breaks down the testing options available for employers to purchase now.
|At office proctored by HR
|| OTC Antigen
||BinaxNow, CareStart, Quidel
||$23.99 for 2 tests
||Results image upload
|At home proctored via Telehealth
|| OTC Antigen
||$69.99 for 2 tests
||Results image upload
|At home digitally read
||BD Veritor at Home
||$23.99 for 2 tests
||Results electronically integrated
|At POC, individual program (e.g. CVS)
||Antigen or PCR
||$100 – 150
||Antigen 15 minutes
PCR 24 hours
|Results image upload
|At POC (or onsite) company Lab program
||Antigen or PCR
||Antigen 15 minutes
PCR 24 hours
|Results programmatic import via CSV
How do I get these tests?
ReturnSafe now has features available to support employees ordering tests directly from our app. Contact us to learn more!
Employers can purchase COVID-19 tests via the links provided below. If you need a solution to securely record employee test results, please schedule a meeting with our team. They can get you up and running with an test tracking solution in as little as a day.
COVID-19 PCR Test Collection Kit
Lucira Check IT Rapid PCR Test
QUIDEL QUICKVUE Antigen Test
BINAXNOW Rapid Antigen Test
BD Veritor at-Home COVID-19 Digital Test Kit
Book a demo to learn more about our testing solution!
OSHA COVID-19 Vaccination and Test ETS Summary
The OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) released on November 4th requires employers with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccines or implement weekly testing. What are the key Employer takeaways from OSHA’s ETS?
- OSHA’s new requirements preempt state requirements and each state will need to adopt a similar or more stringent standard than OSHA
- All the provisions except for those involving testing are effective December 5, 2021.
- The testing requirements are effective January 4, 2022.
- The ETS is in effect for a minimum of six months (May 4, 2022)
Determining Employee Vaccination Status
- Employers need to determine the vaccination status of each employee, obtain acceptable proof of vaccination status, and maintain records and a roster of each employee’s vaccination status. Without proof of vaccination, employees are not considered fully vaccinated.
- Employers are NOT responsible for employees who submit false vaccination cards unless they know that the proof is fraudulent. Employees will face the consequences of submitting false documentation.
- Employers do NOT currently need to keep track of booster shots as they are not included in the definition of fully vaccinated according to the ETS. This does not apply to two dose vaccines, two weeks past the second dose is required to be considered fully vaccinated.
- Employers need to pay for time off to receive a vaccine and deal with side effects.
Testing Unvaccinated Employees at the Workplace
- Employers must ensure each worker at the workplace, who is not fully vaccinated, undergo weekly testing with one of the acceptable testing options outlined in the ETS.
- An employee who does not come to the workplace on a regular basis need not be tested weekly, however the employer must ensure the employee is tested for COVID-19 within seven days prior to returning to the workplace and provides acceptable documentation of that test result to the employer upon return to the workplace.
- Home testing and over the counter (OTC) tests are allowed only if observed by the employer or an authorized telehealth proctor.
- Employers need not pay for time off for testing
Face Mask Requirements
- Unvaccinated employees must wear a face covering when indoors or when occupying a vehicle with another person for work
- Employers do not need to pay for face coverings
Required Reporting and Notification
- Upon request, employers are required to provide OSHA with the aggregate number of fully vaccinated employees at the workplace, along with the total number of employees within four hours of a request.
- Employers must require employees to provide prompt notice when they test positive for COVID-19. Employers must remove the employee from the workplace, employers must not allow them to return to work until they meet required safety criteria.
- Employers must report work-related COVID-19 hospitalizations within 24 hours of learning about them, and report work-related fatalities within 8 hours of learning about them.
- Employers are NOT required to conduct contact tracing
- Employees are required to provide employees with information regarding the prohibitions of 18 U.S.C. § 1001 and Section 17(g) of the OSH Act, which provide for criminal penalties associated with knowingly supplying false statements or documentation. This provision will help minimize the likelihood that any employee provides false information.
Required Record Keeping Security Measures
- OSHA considers vaccination information part of employee medical records and this information should therefore be safeguarded as such
- Vaccination and test records should be kept separately from an employee’s personnel file
- The penalty for a serious violation is up to $13,653 per violation.
- The fine for a willful violation is up to $136,532 per violation
These requirements present a heavy record keeping and compliance burden on HR, whose resources have been exhausted since the onset of the pandemic. A software solution makes it easy for HR to avoid OSHA fines, safeguard employee health information, and keep their workplace safe. We’ve reviewed the OSHA ETS FAQ and identified areas where our secure employee health safety platform could relieve HR’s program administration burden.
Request a demo.
How You Can Easily Comply with OSHA’s ETS
Under the OSHA Vaccination and Test Mandate, employees have two options:
- Mandate a vaccination for anyone entering the workplace
- Track vaccination status but allow unvaccinated, undeclared, or employees exempt from the vaccination to enter the facility on a daily basis after a negative test within the past 7 days.
To complement the OSHA ETS, ReturnSafe suggests daily health screening to ensure only healthy employees enter the facility.
This next section outlines how ReturnSafe can help you easily comply with the new OSHA ETS. Here is a short 2 minute video demo of ReturnSafe.
Treat Employee Data as Medical Records
According to the ETS, “The records and roster required by the ETS are considered to be employee medical records and must be maintained as such records in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.1020 and must not be disclosed except as required or authorized by this ETS or other federal law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.”
Collect and Manage Employee Vaccination Status
With ReturnSafe, collecting vaccination status is done via either a mobile app (iOS or Android) or a Web app. The collection process takes less than one minute. Below is an example vaccine status reporting flow. Employees can also upload exemption documentation via this process.
Once the vaccination information is submitted by an employee, it is immediately available in the ReturnSafe HR Command Center. Here administrators can review and validate the information submitted. The vaccination status information is considered part of an employee’s health record and it is stored on a HIPAA compliant platform to protect employee privacy. The Command Center has role-based access to ensure only admins with the right credentials can access the information.
Employees who enter the workplace but have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 must provide a negative COVID-19 test result weekly to before reporting to work. Businesses are not required to pay for testing.
Test results must be validated by a third party. Employees cannot provide self-reported results. There are several approaches that a business can take in support of this requirement.
- Have the employee get tested at a Point of Care (POC) facility such as CVS or Walgreens. These facilities provide an official verified result, but they can cost between $120 and $180 dollars per test.
- Have employees use an OTC antigen test that offers a proctored solution such as Abbott Labs BinaxNow. These solutions provide a verified result but the video proctoring process is cumbersome and costly.
- Employer provides a proctored on-site testing experience utilizing OTC tests. A designated proctor can observe collection and validate results. Both the employee and proctor can sign the test result as proof of it being witnessed.
- New Option: Have employees use the recently approved BD Veritor at Home OTC antigen test that is virtually proctored and digitally read.
ReturnSafe supports all four options, but we believe options three and four offer the best solution for most organizations at this time. Regardless of the approach, the ReturnSafe app can be used to report testing status and capture the validated result. The employee uses either the mobile or web app to upload an image of the validated result information.
If an employer is utilizing the services of a lab to manage a testing program, these results can be bulk imported into the Command Center. All test results records are available from within the HR Command Center.
Positive Case Management
ReturnSafe’s Case Manager makes it easy for employers to comply with the reporting and notification requirements of positive cases in the workplace. Within the platform, administrators can stay on top of positive COVID-19 cases and notify employees that they cannot return to work until cleared, notify close contacts that they were exposed, and keep track of other employees who may have COVID-19 given their symptoms and/ or exposure outside of the office. With ReturnSafe, this data is securely stored and available for compliance reporting if/when required.
With the prevalence of breakthrough cases, regardless of the vaccination or testing status of an employee, it is best practice that every employee be screened for their health status prior to entering the workplace. Screening should be based upon the then current CDC guidelines for exposure and symptoms. ReturnSafe supports this capability in both our mobile and web apps.
With these vaccine tracking, testing, case management , and screening tools in their toolkit, HR can comfortably support the ETS requirements. With ReturnSafe’s all-in-one platform, employers can get up and running with all of the tools they need to comply with the new mandates in as little as a day.
Connect with our team to learn more!
In addition to reviewing our blog, which summarizes the ETS requirements, we recommend employers review the following resources:
SHRM OSHA ETS Webinar for HR/Employers
OSHA Vaccination or Test ETS
For more information on our solution, please visit the How it Works section of our website.