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Mark Shaw is CEO of Tento Applied Sciences. Here Mark writes about the digitisation in construction, and how this is helping to manage vaccinations.

With the question of whether compulsory vaccinations will be necessary for construction workers arising again this month, there is considerable confusion and uncertainty around how business owners should manage their staff’s Covid vaccination and test status.

This is following recent news that Covid vaccinations are soon set to be mandatory for all care home staff in England. With the government also considering mandatory vaccinations for the 1.38 million NHS staff in England, many business owners are wondering if the next move might be to extend this policy to employees across other sectors, including construction.

Opinions on the legal and ethical implications of such a move are, as you would expect, sharply divided. Some employers may even choose to make it a condition of employment for their staff to provide proof of their vaccination status, though many employees would no doubt baulk at the very idea of being ‘forced’ to get vaccinated or risk losing their jobs.

Whatever decisions and legislative changes may or may not happen at government level over the coming months, this raises a hugely important matter for construction businesses: that both employers and employees want the peace of mind of knowing that their workplaces are safe.

Confusion and uncertainty over managing staff vaccinations

Most people want to know that their colleagues at work have been vaccinated or at least have tested negative to ensure the lowest personal risk possible.

Issuing mandatory ‘all or nothing’ style policies will always be a difficult ask for construction sector employers and staff alike. But the reality is that businesses need to have understandable vaccination strategies and testing regimes that put their staff first as the lockdown restrictions ease.

A recent Gartner HR survey revealed that nearly half (48%) of large global organisations will not track the vaccination status of their employees, with less than one in ten (8%) requiring staff to show proof of vaccination. While a nationwide survey in Ireland last month showed that over half (60%) of Irish employers want the right to ask their staff if they have received a COVID-19 vaccine.

Thankfully, to help employers ensure both freedom of movement for staff and safe workplaces for all, there are other options. For example, verified medical apps allow staff to securely store their health data and medical records directly onto their smartphones. The free Tento Wallet app provides an easy, protected and individually controlled way for employees to prove their vaccination or medical test status at the tap of a screen – with no personally identifiable information shared unless the user decides they want to share it.

Decentralised technology enables a trusted and controlled strategy

Because this technology is decentralised, it allows both individual employees and their employers to work together to implement a trusted and controlled process with confidence.  And one that ensures the safety of all staff and contractors, both during the current pandemic and those that may arise in the future.

Allowing staff and contractors to control how (and with whom) they choose to share their medical data and records is crucial to preserve their trust and ensure their ongoing safety. By using a protected, confidential platform such as Tento Link, construction firm can now seamlessly manage the exchange of verified digital health documents between employers, staff, and contractors.

Tento Authenticator, part of the Tento Link platform, enables site managers to determine entry conditions and validate health credentials presented by the user from their Wallet. The Wallet generates a secure unique roaming QR code that Authenticator can scan from over two metres away to verify that the test certificate belongs to the user presenting it.

Any responsible employer must make the right choices about the health and safety policies that work best for their staff, that minimise risk to their business and that guarantee a safe working environment for all. In addition to enabling businesses across the construction sector to do just this, these latest technologies are also helping businesses across the airlines, travel and film/TV production industries.

Instead of introducing potentially unpopular mandates or directives, it is far easier to deploy the latest cost-effective technologies that put the users first.  And that can additionally provide businesses with simple access control through contactless scanning and verification of identity.

Using a medically approved digital wallet is the first step to empowering your staff by allowing them to take control of their own health data. And, crucially, by letting them decide whom they wish to share their test or vaccination status with – securely and anonymously – on a consent basis. The second step is granting construction businesses access to this fully anonymised data to safely manage their workforces and ensure a safe and efficient return to work for all.

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