One symptom consistent with COVID-19 is a body temperature above 38˚C. In order to reduce the risk of transmission, you need to have measures in place to detect this symptom when present. This is where the appropriate use of temperature screening can be crucial.
Are Temperature Checks An Issue?
While temperature checks are controversial, given the current climate, and provided certain protocols are put in place, they are likely to be deemed reasonable if not necessary.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission has taken the position that screening processes used to verify or assess for COVID-19 may be permissible during the current pandemic. However, such assessments should be reasonable and consistent with the most recent advice from health officials.
It is recommended that you use an infrared digital thermometer for screening purposes, as they are less invasive, relatively inexpensive, and do not require physical contact.
How Do I Conduct Temperature Checks?
You need to ensure the following:
- 󠄀 Is the person taking temperatures trained on how to do so?
- 󠄀 Do you have the person’s consent to take their temperature?
- 󠄀 Is PPE accessible where the temperature check is conducted?
- 󠄀 Is there a lineup waiting to have their temperature taken? Ensure appropriate physical distancing.
- 󠄀 Has the individual conducting the test taken a temperature check of themselves?
- 󠄀 The temperature checks should occur in a private or semi-private area.
- 󠄀 Ensure that the temperature checks are not used for any purpose outside the specific purpose for which they are being conducted.
- 󠄀 Has the thermometer itself been maintained properly?
Temperature Checks Alone Are Not Enough
Elevated body temperature may not, alone, signal COVID-19. As such, temperature checks should always be used with other controls, including a questionnaire and attestation.
You should ask the following questions:
- 󠄀 Are you experiencing any of the following issues: severe difficulty breathing; severe chest pain; feeling confused, or losing consciousness?
- 󠄀 Are you experiencing fever; chills; a new cough; shortness of breath; sore throat; difficulty swallowing; runny nose; stuffy or congested nose; loss of taste or smell; headache; muscle aches; or fatigue?
- 󠄀 Are you in any at-risk group?
- 󠄀 Have you been in close physical contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 14 days?
- 󠄀 Have you been in close physical contact with a person who is sick with a new cough, fever, or difficulty breathing; or returned from outside of Canada in the last 2 weeks?
- 󠄀 Have you traveling outside of Canada in the last 14 days?
To the extent someone answers in the affirmative to any of the above questions, you can refer to Ontario’s self-assessment tool when deciding the appropriate course of action.
You need to have those entering the workplace to sign an attestation every time they wish to enter, confirming the following:
- 󠄀 They are not exhibiting any symptoms relating to COVID-19;
- 󠄀 They have otherwise answered in the negative to the above-noted questions; and
- 󠄀 They do not have a temperature above 38˚C.
Chris Justice – Associate – MacDonald & Associates
Christopher is an Associate Lawyer at MacDonald & Associates, an employment law firm specializing in Canadian employment law for both employers and employees.
Christopher received a J.D. from the University of Western Ontario and an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Law & Society from York University. While attending Western University Christopher volunteered as a legal advisor at the University’s Pro Bono Clinic, advocating on behalf of clients in areas ranging from landlord-tenant disputes to criminal charges. It was also while studying at Western where Christopher developed his passion for oral advocacy and litigation through his participation in several moot competitions, including the Gale and Arnup Cups.