Covid workplace testing guide for employers
Employers can order free test kits online via the gov.uk website. However, there are important laws to consider.
Control of Substances Hazardous to Health laws apply to the processing and handling of kits and samples. As a minimum, you must conduct a risk assessment. Free risk assessment templates are available online from the Health & Safety Executive.
If you are testing at your office, you need a private space. You will need to dispose of used tests kits which could be infectious.
Clinical waste collection services are available from many contract cleaning services. If you cannot find a contractor, you must conduct a risk assessment and act according to the risks you identify.
You will need to distribute, use, track and record test usage amongst your workforce. By law, you must record and notify Public Health England and the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency in the event of positive results and/or serious adverse events (such as a test kit failing to work).
Anyone delivering a workplace testing programme needs good PPE. It is worth making sure you record and assess the instruction and training in how to use it properly.
Processing test results also involves specific legal responsibilities for employers. The Information Commissioner's Office has published a detailed guide for employers.
You will need to carefully consider how you will track, record, process, store and protect test results. You may need to consider amending your data privacy policies before starting a testing programme.
The need to protect the health and safety of your workforce is a lawful reason to conduct a testing programme and process the data. However, that does not remove the obligation to ensure the processing of data is conducted responsibly and fairly.
It is unfair to use or retain information for purposes staff members were not told about or would not reasonably expect. You can only access test results with informed consent.
You must store results data securely, protect it from unauthorised access and ensure you do not discriminate against anyone because of the data you hold. Perceived discrimination can carry as much weight in law as physical discrimination.
It is essential that this should be made clear to all employees if workplace covid testing is introduced. Testing is not a substitute for infection control measures.
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