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Archive for the ‘Pandemic Preparedness’ Category

Fevers and Coronavirus: What You Need to Know about Taking Temperatures

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Fevers and Coronavirus: What You Need to Know about Taking TemperaturesAs businesses begin to reopen, many are instituting temperature checks before employees or clients are allowed to enter. Organizations should understand the best practices before adding that type of policy. They should also understand that temperature checks are only part of a comprehensive health and safety strategy.

Understand the Limitations

Checking temperatures is a valuable tool to help ensure the health and safety of employees and clients, but it isn’t foolproof.

For one thing, not everyone with the coronavirus has a fever or an elevated temperature. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 83-99% of people with COVID-19 experience a fever, and people typically don’t show symptoms for 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.

As many as 13% of infected persons show no symptoms, according to the CDC. People who are asymptomatic can still infect others. Also, other diseases can cause fevers as well; not everyone with a fever has COVID-19.

Choosing Equipment

Consumer-grade, handheld thermometers are widely available. Many of these devices cost less than $100.

Those products use one of three technologies: thermal, infrared, and tympanic. A review of 16 studies by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, part of the National Institutes of Health, found that tympanic thermometers, which are inserted into the ear canal, are the most accurate. The other two types of thermometers varied inaccuracy.

Inexpensive handheld scanners have other drawbacks:
• Increased exposure to risk, as operators must violate social distancing guidelines.
• Slow when scanning many people.
• Risk of cross-contamination when scanning multiple people.
• Labor intensive.
• Faulty readings and errors triggered when ambient temperatures and conditions fall outside desired ranges.

Put simply, inexpensive, handheld forehead scanners may be too inaccurate, slow, and inconvenient for widespread business use.

Benefits of a System

For many organizations, particularly those that need to screen a significant volume of employees, tenants, or visitors, a thermal camera system is a better solution than a handheld.

Commercial-grade temperature screening systems—those designed for human bodies, not industrial applications—have many benefits over a handheld, consumer-grade units:
• Automated; no need for a human operator to get close to subjects.
• Automatically find the subject’s face, forehead, and eyes.
• Much more accurate, up to within 0.3 degrees Celsius.
• Alerts/Alarms to indicate fever.
• Results are logged and saved.
• Compensates for ambient temperature.
• Compensates for distance.
• Portable for use in different areas.
• Fast; designed for high volumes.
• Self-calibrating for minimal temperature drift.
• Advanced analytics for minimal false alarms.

Most temperature screening systems can be used as stand-alone systems or integrated with security or video management systems, and they can be networked.

Best Workplace Practices

Taking the temperature of everyone who enters a facility is one step in protecting occupants. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) recommends that organizations and facilities managers also follow these practices:
• Develop policies and procedures for workplace health and safety.
• Acquire an infectious disease preparedness and response plan.
• Promote frequent and thorough handwashing, and make handwashing stations and hand sanitizer widely available.
• Encourage sick employees to stay home.
• Emphasize respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes.
• Establish policies that help workers distance themselves, such as remote work and staggered shifts.
• Discourage workers or visitors from sharing equipment.
• Maintain stringent cleaning and disinfecting practices.

Training and Educating

Sunstates Security has added mandatory COVID-19 courses for all employees to its in-house Learning Management System, which tracks completion. Those courses include basic COVID-19 safety, how to use Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), how to properly conduct temperature checks, how to sanitize patrol equipment, and an employee pledge to uphold company guidelines, based on CDC and local government standards and regulations. All security personnel, whether supplied by a security partner or part of an in-house security team, should be specially trained to mitigate COVID-19 threats.

To learn more about how Sunstates Security can support your organization’s health and safety efforts, call 866-710-2019 or email us.

COVID-19 Update: What Sunstates Security is doing

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Coronavirus Update- Sunstates Security Company

Updated May 12, 2020

In accordance with the government’s “Opening Up America Again” initiative, Sunstates Security is taking steps to return to normal operations.

For employees:

  • Staying in communication with furloughed officers, assisting with funding options, checking on their well-being, and providing updated information as it becomes available on when their positions may return.
  • Continuous communication with active employees to check health, ensuring site safety protocol compliance, and collecting feedback on how we can best support their specific operation.
  • Preparing for a gradual return to work in Phase 1, including employee training & screening, workplace modifications to accommodate social distancing, enhanced cleaning protocols, and limitation of visitors and contractors.

For clients:

  • Continued evaluation of federal, state & local government regulations by our legal & compliance team as it relates to shelter in place, stay at home, PPE guidelines, etc.
  • Actively recruiting and increasing our talent pipeline to ensure we have the resources to respond quickly to increased site coverage requirements as the economy begins to reopen.
  • Implementing automated processes for electronic issuance and approval of invoices and payment options for all clients.
  • Collaborating with client management teams on return-to-work processes and procedures to ensure the safety of their employees, clients, visitors, vendors, and contractors while continuing to enforce security protocols.
  • Continued sourcing of new pipelines for procuring PPE and sharing resources with clients as necessary.

Sunstates Security continues to focus on the health and well-being of our employees and the safety of those we serve while fulfilling our service commitments.

On the following pages, we have included a timeline of actions the company has taken since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis and which we continue to maintain as the scenario unfolds. 

Summary of Actions Taken to Date

For our employees…

Sunstates appreciates our employees, and our first and foremost concern is their safety and well-being. Our goal is to keep people employed while providing a safe workplace and clear operating protocols in line with CDC guidelines.

Ongoing Safety Communications/Resources:

  • As needed, provisions of PPE, cleaning, and sanitizing supplies provided for offices and posts while maintaining an updated inventory by region.
  • Ongoing and regularly scheduled conference calls including Legal & Compliance, Human Resources, Quality Assurance, Training, and Executive Management Team members to discuss COVID-19 updates, hygiene practices, evolving client requirements, and operational processes.
  • March 16 – Sunstates began providing ongoing communication to educate employees, including COVID-19 Safety & Preparedness Bulletin, Hand Washing & Sanitizing Guidelines, and Social Distancing Strategies Protocol.
  • March 20 – CEO Kathryn Burrell communicated to all employees regarding safety and employee resources.
  • March 23 – Sunstates issued a bulletin regarding security employee classification as essential employees by the DHS and provided officers with a letter to carry, along with their state licenses, when traveling to/from work.
  • March 26 – Human Resources sent communication regarding medical coverage, including the availability of Telemedicine visits and COVID-19 testing.
  • April 17 – Rolled out an employee pledge campaign asking all officers to commit to social distancing and other COVID-19 recommended safety guidelines; participation will be tracked through the LMS system.
  • COVID-19 Training: Sunstates launched a mandatory COVID-19 training module for all employees on March 16, easily accessible, and tracked through our online LMS. 
  • April 1 – Released a new training module regarding the use of PPE with enrollments based upon management requests; updated information released on April 10.
  • April 13 – Released a new training module regarding vehicle cleanliness; managers send job numbers to the training department to auto-enroll officers with driving positions.
  • April 20 – Released a new training module for conducting temperature checks including important guidance on maintaining proper social distance, utilizing permanent barriers, and incorporating technology such as thermal imaging cameras that achieve safety, accuracy, and efficiency.  This training is mandated for all employees performing this function.
  • Continued Employment: Sunstates is doing everything possible to retain employees who may have been affected by reductions in coverage by cross-training at other locations, refining schedules, adjusting to 32-hour workweeks, and offering opportunities to fulfill additional service requests through the Sunstates Mutual Aid Rapid Response Team (SMARRT) program.
  • Employee Benefits: On March 20, our Human Resources Department distributed information on government benefits. We have also expanded company policy to allow those whose positions are negatively impacted by COVID-19 to retain employee status with the ability to resume work at Sunstates without having to reapply or losing tenure once the emergent situation has passed. Continue to share information about virtual health care resources, EAP information, and communications from Empower for those enrolled in the Sunstates Security 401(k) program.

New Protocol for Recruiting & Onboarding to Ensure Safety and Social Distancing: 

  • Phone and/or video interviews, using multiple platforms, such as Skype & Facetime.
  • Staggered timing for hiring events, in-person interviews, sizing for uniforms, etc., to limit the number of people and to allow for six-foot distancing.
  • Changes in location or size of training classes to allow for adequate distancing; implementation of live-stream video training for state licensing (where approved by the state licensing agencies) as well as Sunstates orientation.
  • Employee Recognition: Special recognition of officers who are going above and beyond the call of duty during this challenging time. 

For our clients…

Sunstates Security continues to serve our clients, adjusting coverage requirements as needed. As the situation evolves, Sunstates is exploring creative solutions to fulfill client requirements and to meet our internal quality standards, while ensuring safe social distancing and compliance with CDC guidelines.

  • March 16 – Implementation of Virtual Quality Assurance Checks.
  • April 9 – introduced a new COVID-19 specific virtual QA check to ensure proper use of PPE and compliance with social distancing and hygiene guidelines.
  • Scheduled and impromptu video meetings and calls with clients.
  • Continued consultation with clients to develop a protocol and share best practices regarding new pandemic-related requirements such as social distancing measures, use of PPE, sanitary standards, temperature checks, etc. in ways that mitigate risk for our clients and our officers.
  • Provide PPE, cleaning & sanitizing supplies for officers at client sites when needed.
  • Proactive planning for additional coverage requirements through expanded recruiting and enrollment with the Sunstates Mutual Aid Rapid Response Team (SMARRT). In the past 60 days, enrollment has increased substantially, providing an enhanced emergency coverage resource for Sunstates clients.

Such strategic changes to our processes and operating procedures will allow us to continue taking care of our employees and clients, while stimulating the economy by creating new employment opportunities throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Please reach out to the Sunstates management team or search for employment opportunities on our website.

The Coronavirus Pandemic: Is Your Organization Ready?

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Recent pandemics, such as the Ebola virus, bird flu and others, have revealed many vulnerabilities in our ability to prepare for the effects of a large-scale pandemic. When epidemics begin overseas, as the coronavirus has, we watch it with a detached, “hope it doesn’t get here” mentality.

China’s attempt to lock down the travel of 11 million people to contain a virus that has already killed nearly 1,000 (as of this writing) and sickened thousands has only been partially successful.

Cases have already been reported outside of mainland China, including in the U.S. No doubt many more are coming.

The situation with the new coronavirus, officially known as 2019-nCoV, is rapidly changing. Things are so fast-moving that it may already be out of date. But, as with any pandemic, there are three key strategies to mitigate threats to personnel, security and operations:

  • Stay informed
  • Develop a plan
  • Prepare for contingencies

Stay Informed

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is confirming new cases of this sometimes-deadly respiratory disease almost daily. As this is being written, the CDC has told travelers to avoid all nonessential travel to China, while monitoring possible coronavirus cases in 26 U.S. states.

We recommend monitoring authoritative sources, such as the CDC and other government health agencies. Please do not give credence to unknown sources on social media, which can spread disinformation and panic.

Plan and Prepare

Some actions are obvious: curtail all corporate travel to areas where cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed, and urge employees to take the same medical and health precautions they would to guard against the flu or any serious, contagious disease.

Beyond that, make plans that you’ll hopefully never have to implement, including:

  • Develop policies and operations to screen and identify potentially infected individuals before they enter your building, campus or area.
  • Prepare contingency plans in case key personnel are sick and unavailable, such as cross-training other employees.
  • Prepare contingency plans to ensure the continuation of key operations, such as cross-training or moving resources.
  • Educate employees about the symptoms of the coronavirus.
  • Ensure that possibly sick employees stay home to lower the risk of infecting others.

If your organization already has existing security or business continuity plans, review and update them as new information about the coronavirus and its spread develops. Even plans that were developed just a few years ago may no longer be up to date. We know more about the spread of disease than we did before. We also have new security and access-control technology available.

Whether security is provided in-house or by an outside partner, make sure there’s a plan to backfill personnel and support operations in the event of widespread absences.

At Sunstates, the foundation of our business continuity plan is the Sunstates Mutual Aid Rapid Response Team (SMARRT) program. Specially trained and equipped team members are ready to fill any personnel gaps and provide security at any client’s site at a moment’s notice.

One final note: It’s better to have spent time and resources training for a pandemic that doesn’t happen than being caught unprepared by one that does.

Sunstates Security has been helping clients create customized emergency and business continuity plans since 1998, including pandemic contingencies. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.

Written by Sunstates Security

February 4th, 2020 at 3:25 pm