SMART testing in the workplace

The information below sets out how to join the programme and what’s involved. You will be guided through the process by our team and they will be available to answer any questions or concerns throughout.

About the programme

SMART testing is available for everyone in the borough. However we know that not everyone can visit the SMART testing site. We have therefore made arrangements for workplace SMART testing.

This testing is especially important for key businesses which need to stay open during lockdown. It is estimated that around one in three people might display no symptoms, but are still infectious. It is vital to break these chains of transmission and bring down infection rates.

By engaging in workplace or homeplace testing, businesses and their employees are helping to keep their workforce, customers and service users safe, and reduce infection so that we can return to normality as soon as possible.

The testing is completed using lateral flow testing devices (LFTs) on nose and throat swab samples. This will improve virus detection within settings and communities and help to prevent further transmission and spread.

We’re adding more testing each week so that people can protect themselves, as well as their families and friends.

Read the full guidance from the Department of Health and Social Care.

Register to join the workplace testing programme

You can register to join the workplace testing programme

About the lateral flow test

The test is self-administered using swabbing of the nose and throat and processing of the results will be done in the workplace (using smart phone /tablet) with results available in 20-30 minutes.

Lateral flow testing has a lower sensitivity than PCR. However, studies to date suggest that these tests are better at returning positive results for people who are infectious rather than people who may have had COVID-19 recently and are no longer infectious (PCR will detect both).

Innova, the LFT device being used, has an overall sensitivity of 76.8% for all PCR-positive individuals but detects over 95% of individuals with high viral loads, and minimal difference between the ability of the test to pick up viral antigens in symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. This is why we are encouraging repeat testing every 3 to 5 days.

When used in combination with other Covid secure measures such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), washing hands regularly and social distancing, these tests further reduce the risk of transmission. We must not relax any of these measures; this testing programme is in addition to them.

Site assessment and training

Workplaces participating in testing will need to determine how many staff they need to be trained to oversee and support the testing process and where those staff will be identified from, for example, existing staff and volunteers or Occupational Health providers.

Your commitment to this workplace testing programme is to have a named person (Team Leader) responsible for overseeing the testing who ensures that staff (Testing Operatives) testing on site are trained to the required standard. Tests must be supervised by your staff, so, before you start testing, you will need to identify your test operatives (your staff). An on-line training package will be made available to enable your testing staff to prepare to carry out their roles. This is an assurance check to ensure the necessary standards are met. The on-line modules are not onerous (approx. 30-45 mins) and the training package is mandatory. It covers important aspects such as correct use of PPE and safe testing area operation.

Site assessment and training details will be sent via email once your registration has been successful.

Access online training here.

Please note you will need to be provided with a password for this training which you will receive on email.

Select the 'Need to register?' option and enter the token you have received on email. Each person accessing this will be asked to set up an account with their own password and then be expected to complete the required modules.

The required training modules are:

  1. Infection prevention and control
  2. Meet and greet
  3. How to give guidance on self-swabbing for the Innova LFD test
  4. How to process Covid-19 tests using the Innova Lateral Flow Device
  5. How to log results for Covid-19 tests using the Innova Lateral Flow Device
  6. Test Operatives – using the Log Results website
  7. Team Leader – approving Test Operatives (for Team Leader only)
  8. Train the Trainer (for Team Leader and nominated trainers only)

When a module is completed you will be asked to 'Download certificate'. It is very important to select this option and save the certificate as it cannot be retrieved later and you will have to do the module again.

Setting up a testing area
  • The test area flooring must be non-porous and the test site cleanable with the approved cleaning product
  • The test area must be well lit and have good airflow with no recirculation of air
  • The ambient temperature should be 15-30°C for the lateral flow devices to operate and 2-30°C for storing them
  • The registration desk should be at the first point where an employee being tested would enter the test area
  • A one-way direction of travel for employees being tested should ideally be in operation, unless you are completing single tests at a time. If not possible, enough room should be provided for individuals being tested to exit the room whilst maintaining social distance
  • The test subject chairs in the swabbing bay should be minimum of 2m apart and either plastic or of a surface, which can be wiped down and sanitised after each use.
  • Each swabbing desk must have a processing desk close by – approximately 1m away. A recording desk should also be located close by.
  • There should be a clear division between swabbing and processing area. This should be clearly set out. Individuals being tested should not enter the processing area.
Equipment and disposal

Tests

Blackburn with Darwen Council will provide you with a sufficient supply of lateral flow tests, registration cards and bar codes for you to be able to repeat test your identified number of staff twice a week. Once you are up and running, you will be able to re-order further supplies to enable this to take place

PPE

If you already use your own, please continue to do so. If you do not, we can provide you with the basics.

Waste disposal

All waste that is generated from Lateral flow testing including PPE, can be disposed of in your general waste bins

Registering tests and recording the results

Registering and the results of each swab is recorded online and should work with laptops, smart phones or tablets with Wi-Fi connectivity. The process uses an identifying barcode, which is provided with your test kits.

As part of your sign up process with Blackburn with Darwen’s SMART programme you will be given a unique site ID code that is associated with your workplace to register and report tests against. For larger workplaces or those with different sites multiple codes can be supplied.

Registering positive results is a statutory requirement for Covid-19.

The SMART programme also collects testing information locally to enable the Council to understand how the virus is impacting communities and workplaces and helps to support businesses and ensure that timely action is put in place to protect our communities and workplaces.

You are required to register all barcodes used on site using this digital process.

You are then required to report all test results, positive, negative and invalid, using this process.

You are also required to report results locally to Blackburn with Darwen Council.

Report your results here.

Testing

The test will tell you if you were infectious with COVID-19 at the time the test was taken. The test cannot detect very low levels of coronavirus so if you have only recently been infected or if you have mostly recovered, the test may not give a positive result.

The repeat testing model, allows for changes in the viral load and therefore repeated testing should take place every 3 to 5 days.

Please note that lateral flow testing is not required within 90 days of a positive result. Individuals and workplaces who choose to continue lateral flow testing within 90 days of a positive test can still access support from the Council’s Public Health and Outbreak Management teams (BWDCOVID19@blackburn.gov.uk)

Obtaining consent/permission from employees

Participation is voluntary for the programme. We are hoping that many people will recognise the benefits of getting involved in local testing efforts to reduce the spread of the virus in workplaces and local communities. However, as a workplace, you will need to make arrangements, as appropriate for your setting, in the instance of an employee who does not wish to consent to take part in testing.

The testing journey

Your employees will be asked to do their own swab and your trained testing operatives will process and record the results. Instructions on how to undertake a swab as well as a short video explainer will be provided as part of your Workplace Induction Pack.

What to do if the test is positive

If your employee gets a positive result they must:

  • travel straight home from having the test and must not visit any shops, services or other houses, as this could put others at risk
  • book a PCR test to confirm the result. They must self-isolate until they receive the results.
  • inform everyone in their household and/or bubble that they must self-isolate for 10 days.
  • as a workplace you must follow your own Covid-19 policy including identifying and informing close colleagues to self-isolate

Contact tracing will start with a positive LFD result but will be stopped automatically if the PCR test returns a negative result. This is only if the PCR test is taken within two days of the positive LFD result.

If the PCR test returns a negative result then the employee and their household can stop self-isolating. If the PCR test returns a positive result then they and their household must self-isolate for 10 days.

What to do if the test is negative

A negative result means the test did not find coronavirus, so you were not infectious when the test was done. You are advised to take the following precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19.

  • Meet outside, or open windows and doors for indoor visitors
  • If you think you have symptoms stay at home and take a PCR test
  • Wear face coverings in crowded places and on public transport
  • Check in to venues when you go out
  • Wash your hands with soap regularly, and for at least 20 seconds
  • Get vaccinated if you’re 18 or over

Coronavirus remains a serious health risk. You should stay cautious to help protect yourself and others.

If your employee has symptoms of coronavirus

Lateral testing is not suitable if your employee already has symptoms of coronavirus. Please book a test at a local testing site by:

Financial support is available to people who need to self-isolate. Eligibility criteria applies.

Test and Trace in the workplace

What to do if you or someone you employ is required to self-isolate.

Engaging your workforce

Providing helpful message and materials such as FAQs, can help your workforce learn more about the reason why you are engaging with lateral flow testing in the workplace.

General materials and resources on coronavirus in different formats from Public Health England.

Reporting an incident

Any adverse incidents related specifically to testing should be reported to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). You will be required to submit any incidents on a daily basis for your onsite testing and send as notification as part of your local report to Lancashire County Council. Incidents should also be reported to the MHRA via the yellow card scheme.

Instructions on how to report adverse incidents internally and to the MHRA.

Examples of an adverse incidents include:

  • Material break (if something breaks during use i.e. the swab)
  • Detachment of device component
  • Component missing (If something in the kit is missing)
  • Leaks
  • Packaging problem
  • False negative / false positive results
  • Unable to obtain readings (e.g. failure of control line or if the use is not able to read the result)
  • Device handling problem
Vaccinations and lateral flow testing

The increased access to lateral flow testing and the vaccination programme are the corner stones to support the Government’s roadmap and phased re-opening.

It is important that people continue to participate in regular lateral flow testing once they have had an initial and second vaccine.

Whilst early indications show that vaccines are very effective at preventing transmission of COVID-19, we are still learning to what extent people who have been vaccinated can catch the virus and pass it on to others. Until very high proportions of the population are vaccinated, we must continue to protect each other by following all public health advice.

Protective behaviours remain as important as ever.

To keep ourselves, colleagues, families and the wider community safe regular testing is still required