Dave Squires is no stranger to the challenges of running a plumbing business. He and his brother Daniel Squires share equal ownership in Port Huron, Michigan-based Vincent’s Plumbing & Heating and Online-Access, an online marketing firm exclusively for contracting companies. So when the COVID-19 pandemic launched an entire new set of headaches for companies trying to comply with OSHA guidelines, Dave Squires decided to create a painkiller.
CertiClear is an automated service designed to simplify employee health screenings, facilitate COVID-19 compliance and reduce potential liability. In the U.S., 45 states now require or recommend employee health screening for businesses. The system coordinates, organizes and securely stores employee daily health screening records. It’s also free of privacy risks and designed to be HIPAA and ADA compliant.
“Initially, we were doing it manually, and it was a total cluster,” Dave Squires says. “We are in Michigan, and the problem was asking everybody the questions and having them answer them every day. It was taking at least a minute to a minute-and-a-half, if you could get everybody on the phone at the right time. We thought of doing our daily screening with a questionnaire log our employees would fill out daily. However, there’s absolutely no privacy that way. Even with our dispatcher asking the questions, that’s one more person in the loop that doesn’t need to be.
“So we decided to write something for our own company,” he continues. “As we did, we were seeing interest from other companies and realized this was something everybody needed. Right now, very few businesses are doing this and it’s mandated in almost half the states. If it’s mandated and you ignore it, you really don’t have a leg to stand on if you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing if a customer or employee sues you should they contract the virus.”
Michigan is one of the states that has mandated wellness checks for employees. Dave Squires decided automation was key in simplifying this process.
“The first thing we do with a business is look at how to deal with the exclusions, not the norm, because the norm becomes white noise if you get an email every time somebody passes the screening. So our program notifies HR when there is a situation with a decision to be made. We create the ability to log how the decision is handled, what’s been told, everything like that, so that we have an audit trail, which is the best protection you can have. We don’t tell people how they need to handle COVID-19 situations, we build the framework so they can, staying within HIPAA compliance and ADA compliance.”
How it works
CertiClear currently has more than 100 contractors using the system.
“What’s nice about it uses the employee’s cell phone,” Dave Squires notes. “Employees get a reminder SMS text message to answer the mandated screening questions 15 minutes before their normally scheduled start time. They just click the unique link sent with the text message. If they don’t respond, 15 minutes later, they will receive another message. They’re going to get three messages 15 minutes apart until they fill it out. If they answer all questions satisfactorily, they continue on. If they answer a question that may raise a health concern, they’re told to stop what they are doing, not to go into the office, and to contact HR.”
HR is also notified as well as the supervisor so they can work it out, Dave Squires notes.
“If someone says ‘I have a runny nose,’ well that could be allergies,” he says. “If that’s the case, you document the employee said it feels like normal allergies. Then you can make the decision what you want to do. If it is normal allergies, I’m not going to quarantine you, unless something changes.”
All of the documentation for each employee is stored in the system so there is a complete audit trail. And, because different states have different requirements, the platform can be customized to each company’s location.
“In some places, you’re required to take a temperature, and in some, you’re not,” Dave Squires explains. “Some places you just have to ask, ‘Do you have any symptoms?’ In our demo on the website, it asks the question: ‘Do you have a temperature of over 100.4?’ You can ask that question or you can delete it and make the employee put their actual temperature in. We’re flexible on how companies want to do it — it just depends on their location.”
And though, the platform requires employees to input their own temperatures, Dave Squires doesn’t think it presents a liability.
“If you have a dishonest employee, you have bigger problems than their health check,” he says. “You can’t fire the employee if he fails a screening, you can make him get tested, which isn’t a great incentive for the employee to lie.”
Helping your customers
CertiClear has already been used in many applications. Since it is could-based, the system is great for businesses with multiple locations, such has wholesale-distributors and showrooms. A Michigan school system recently used CertiClear throughout 17 locations, screening over 900 employees.
“Distributors could also use this as something to suggest to their contractor customers to protect clients from potential future litigation if they’re not doing any screening – especially in the states requiring it. Rules and regulations can be very confusing as they change; many contractors don’t realize screening is required in their state,” Squires explains.
“Unfortunately, ignorance of the law is not a defense. If nothing else, distributors should be helping their customers by researching and letting contractors know they are potentially facing issues by doing nothing. As an industry, we all need to work together to understand regulations and be able to continue to do our jobs.”