Features

Contact tracing technology key to ‘COVID-NORMAL’

An Australian based technology platform is transforming contact tracing in high-risk industries with the ability for a workplace to run a contact trace within seconds, before the Department of Health and Human Services initiate an investigation on a suspected or positive COVID-19 case.

Ahead of what is expected to be its biggest Christmas ever, Australia Post announced in October that it is recruiting over 4000 people across the country to help deliver record parcel volumes – the biggest hiring spree in the organisation’s 210-year history.

Nearly 2900 Christmas casuals will be hired by Australia Post across transport and deliveries across the country. With peak logistic movements happening across retail, manufacturing, postage, and transport sectors – many organisations are hiring more employees to aid busy operations at distribution centres. However, a level of concern is felt amongst employers in ‘high risk’ industries due to the increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 in warehouse and distribution centres.

Elissa Reid, Director of Product and Safety at Contact Harald says employers can be confident to fully operate their business during this peak season through measures to ensure people feel safe within their working environment.

Contact tracing solution Contact Harald provides this simple line of defence for Australian businesses operating in high-risk industries, allowing them to manage infections swiftly, and prevent an entire business closure in the event that a staff member becomes unwell.

Contact tracing solution Contact Harald

Contract tracing has skyrocketed to the forefront of workplace safety. As Stage 4 restrictions began to ease in Melbourne at the end of October, the Victorian Government began ramping up surveillance testing when supermarkets and food distribution centres returned to full capacity. Workers in such distribution centres will be tested for COVID-19 regardless of whether they have symptoms or not, but as we’ve seen in many cases – it only takes one case to implement a full site shutdown that can lead to dramatic consequences for the business.

Contact tracing solution Contact Harald provides this simple line of defence for Australian businesses operating in high-risk industries, allowing them to manage infections swiftly, and prevent an entire business closure in the event that a staff member becomes unwell.

“At a tipping point in time, where we aim to return the country to a place of normality, what matters most isn’t just the amount of testing, but the speed of communication and tracing to minimise further spread,” Elissa says.

FIRST LINE OF DEFENCE

Elissa says through Contact Harald wearable Bluetooth cards, businesses become the first line of defence. In the case a declaration of a suspected COVID-19 or positive case occurs in a workplace, a contact trace can be run in seconds on site. “Essentially, this solution shifts the line of defence to the workplace, rather than waiting valuable time for the Department of Health and Human Services to initiate an investigation,” she says.

In a large distribution centre, especially 24-hour operations, a complete site shutdown is likely to occur if a suspected COVID-19 case has been alerted to the workplace. One minute in shut-down can cause a surge in delays that last days in busy distribution centres and during peak season – complete shutdowns need to be avoided at all costs.

“We want to inform employers that Contact Harald will minimise shutdowns due to the data intelligence that can allow business continuity,” Elissa says.

Using wearable, stand-alone card technology and operating on low-energy Bluetooth technology, Contact Harald provides businesses with the confidence to safely manage their staff’s health by recording card-to-card interactions within a defined facility.

Through bluetooth technology, Contact Harald determines when two people have been in close proximity of each other within certain set time limits, allowing for easier, faster detection.

Should an individual become unwell, the data stored on the card issued to them while on-site is flagged within the system, automatically matching data to other cards active in the worksite active at the same time. This allows businesses to manage potential health risks, and immediately identify and alert staff to take swift action to isolate, get tested and better manage the health of their own immediate contacts outside of the business.

Elissa highlights that there is a significant difference between this solution and a mobile application. Contact Harald is not an app. It does not require downloading anything onto personal or work phones where there is a risk to accessing personal or confidential information via hacking or access to metadata.

No personal information is stored on a Contact Harald card, the data isn’t stored externally and remains within a workplace’s secure database. “Confidentiality was a key focus in the development of Contact Harald, we understand that privacy is a major issues for both businesses and their staff members, so it was important to develop a wearable card that provides the entire workplace with peace of mind that both their health and their privacy is being protected,” Elissa says.

“Because our solution is a wearable card it is worn for an employee’s entire shift. We’re not interested in workers behaviour; it simply is detecting whether one or more Contact Harald cards have come in contact for more than two minutes for the sole purpose of tracing.”

COVID SAFE CHRISTMAS

“In supply chain industries, sometimes the nature of the job such as passing product and picking items, physical distancing isn’t a practical option. This is where our card is that insurance policy from tracing with other cards in two-minute intervals,” Elissa says.

She says Australian industries are relying on Contact Harald to speed up contact tracing to slow the spread of COVID-19. The technology was already existing, but Contact Harald rapidly reimagined the Bluetooth cards in May this year to be an essential contact tracing tool for a wide range of industries. Since then, businesses in the USA, Singapore, UK and Australia have implemented the Contact Harald cards as part of their on-shift employees attire. Contact Harald’s customers include a Federal Government in Asia Pacific, Multiplex, and other major infrastructure companies, food manufacturing and retailers including Koko Black.

Contact Harald is in discussions with major supermarkets and shopping centres in regard to implementing its system.

Elissa credits the wearable technology as a visual compliance. “For workers walking around a distribution centre, when they can see that other colleagues are wearing the Contact Harald card clipped to them it gives them peace of mind that their employer is taking their health and safety seriously in this uncertain time,” she says. “Especially when Christmas casuals are coming on site, this visual compliance sings out that we’re all in this together and staff feel like they are being safe guarded to the highest degree possible.”

When Melbourne was forced into lockdown again in late June, Melbourne business Koko Black felt the pinch immediately, and went on the lookout for technology that would help it operate more safely for staff and safeguard its business continuity.

Nicholas Georges, CEO, Koko Black – part of Grill’d Group of Companies, went on the hunt for a product that would ensure they could manage any outbreak in the lead up to their busiest time of the year, after trialling several devices, they landed on this solution.

“We installed Contact Harald at the height of Victoria’s stage 4 restrictions. It gives us confidence that as we get closer to Christmas, we’re not going to have an event that pushes us off the rails. As for the return on investment, there are employee morale benefits. Staff were worried but seeing this tool and the company’s diligence has had a positive impact,” Nick says.

“Contact Harald gave us the confidence that as we get closer to Christmas, we’re not going to have an event that pushes us off the rails. Even the staff have more confidence; seeing this tool and the company’s diligence has had a very positive impact.”

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