What Rapid Antigen Testing Is and How it Will Affect Construction Activities

Posted by Tristan Angelini on 23 September 2021

You may have heard of the latest mandate that was introduced as part of the COVID-19 safety measure – the Rapid Antigen Testing. This test has been used around the globe to serve as an alternative to standard COVID tests, only the results can be received much faster. Rapid antigen testing is now a requirement in the construction industry as a COVIDSafe protocol, including getting vaccinated.

A couple of days ago, protests erupted that resulted into some harsh decisions to be made. Most of the protesters are complaining about the new requirements, specifically requiring all construction workers to get vaccinated. However, as of this writing, the government has shut down the construction industry for two weeks in some areas.

To understand further, let’s talk more about what Rapid Antigen Testing is about.

As we’ve previously mentioned, the RA testing is an alternative standard test most commonly known as PCR Tests. This test aims to detect COVID-19 cases. But according to many experts, this test is not as accurate.

In some areas in Australia, including NSW, employers are now required to implement the test in their workforce. This is a necessary step to keep everyone safe and prevent any more infections especially in the workplace, particularly the building and construction worksites. However, some challenges come with this new requirement. While the test kits can be utilized by employers, these tests should only be conducted by health professionals or at least have them oversee the whole testing process and the test interpretation. The testing kits provided by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and the screening is also said to follow all the conditions and instructions of TGA.

How will the testing affect the construction work and activities?

If an employee or worker tests positive for COVID, the site manager must notify the Public Health Unit right away. The Public Health Unit will be the one to make the necessary arrangements to better address the situation, such as have the worker be transported to a local COVID testing facility and get the PCR test. The worker must go remain in isolation until a conclusive result has been released. In the same way, those who test negative will need the approval of a site supervisor to be able to continue working.

While the rapid antigen test could detect possible cases, the weaker side of it is that it is less accurate and could potentially create confusion among workers. Causes of delay could also become an issue, especially because programs relating to the test couldn’t take place in the arrangements and planning.

Employers must know how to communicate matters pertaining to this - including documenting all arrangements and even the sanctions against rule-breakers, but at the same time, they have to consider each one’s circumstances to be more reasonable for requiring the test.

For bigger organizations, there are potential logistics challenges due to the said requirement. To go about this efficiently, planning should be made so employees could complete the test ahead of the start of their workday. This would minimize any more issues in the future.

The testing, while may not be welcomed by other members of the industry is just one of the ways to keep all sites open. Getting vaccinated is still the number one requirement and whatever is available to you is the best vaccine.

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