rapid antigen tests and set up onsite rapid COVID-19
workplace screening programs for employees.
About the Program
Organized in partnership with the Ministry of Health and the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA), Safe Screen B.C. will guide businesses through the required application process for provincially available test-kits and support businesses in the set-up of onsite rapid workplace screening programs for employees.
How Safe Screen B.C. helps businesses
Supports businesses with the required application process for free rapid antigen tests through B.C.’s Rapid COVID-19 Point of Care Screening Program
Supports the development of onsite workplace screening programs for employees
Enables access and usage of rapid antigen tests for B.C. businesses
Benefits of rapid antigen tests
Rapid antigen tests can quickly screen asymptomatic employees for COVID-19 in close contact settings.
Tests are mobile and can be deployed close to employees who need testing
Quick results to enable a public health response (typical turn around is 15-20 minutes)
Affordable and Available
Provincially available tests are free for program participants
How the Program Works
Under the current Provincial Health Order, B.C. businesses must have pre-approval from the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) and meet PHSA training and reporting requirements to conduct COVID-19 screening for workers.
There are two pathways for B.C. businesses to apply for, and to receive approval to conduct COVID-19 screening activities for workers:
- Independently – Businesses apply directly with PHSA.
- Safe Screen B.C. – Businesses apply through Safe Screen B.C. to PHSA; and receive support and guidance which will streamline and simplify the application process and the implementation of the screening program to meet their specific workplace needs.
Businesses are not required to apply through Safe Screen B.C. to receive approval for COVID-19 screening.
Participating businesses can expect to launch a workplace onsite screening program for employees with guidance and support throughout the process below:
Sign up for Safe Screen BC
Develop your application
Submit application & sign agreement
Order & Receive screening kits
Safe Screen B.C. participants will have access to:
Safe Screen B.C. toolkit
Support and guidance
Streamlined reporting software
Employee FAQ library
Safe Screen B.C. supports businesses interested in offering voluntary screening for employees without symptoms in close contact settings. Participating businesses will be asked to contribute a fee to cover the cost of the services provided by the Safe Screen B.C. program which include: tailored support services to apply for test kits, access to a custom-designed reporting solution, and access to training resources and additional support services to assist businesses with the implementation of onsite rapid screening. Test kits are provided free of charge by the province via Health Canada Rapid Screening Program for employers COVID-19 rapid testing and screening in workplaces: What employers should know – Canada.ca
Organizations that classify as long-term care, not for profit or are in the education sector are not eligible for this program. They are recommended to go directly to PHSA’s Rapid COVID-19 Point of Care Screening Program Page for more information on how they can apply to implement a rapid screening program.
While test kits are provided free of charge by the province, participating businesses are asked to contribute a one-time fee to cover the cost of the services provided by Safe Screen B.C. program. The program fee is determined based on the size of the company. For more information, contact email@example.com.
How to sign-up for the information session
Businesses interested in Safe Screen B.C. can attend an information session through this registration link.
Rapid Testing FAQs
What is rapid antigen screening?
Rapid antigen screening can be used to quickly screen asymptomatic people for COVID-19 in settings where there is close contact and a higher chance that infection can be transmitted. Rapid antigen tests detect viral proteins (known as antigens) and are performed at the time and place of sample collection. These tests involve a nasal swab of both lower nostrils and results typically take 15 to 20 minutes.1,2
How accurate are rapid antigen tests, and how are they different from lab based diagnostic tests?
Screening tests in people without symptoms are important tools to help quickly identify and isolate cases and to limit COVID-19 spread in the workplace and throughout the community.
Rapid antigen tests offer results more quickly (typically 15 to 20 minutes) than lab-based diagnostic polymerase chain reaction or PCR tests (typically 1 to 3 days). Rapid antigen tests can identify individuals with a high viral load and high transmission potential, making it a useful tool for screening purposes. However, rapid antigen tests can miss infections or can have false positive results.
Because rapid antigen tests used for screening purposes are less sensitive than lab-based diagnostic PCR tests, results are considered “presumptive.” The use of rapid antigen tests screening is not a substitute for other public health measures such as mask wearing and physical distancing. Because of the chance of a false positive result, individuals who test positive on a rapid antigen test are required to undergo a confirmatory lab-based diagnostic PCR test and can do so at any of B.C.’s collection centres.1-6
Who should rapid antigen tests be administered to?
Rapid antigen testing is voluntary and can be offered to individuals without symptoms and who are at an increased risk of exposure due to longer periods of contact with other individuals. (Testing can be administered to vaccinated employees.) Rapid antigen tests can also be used when individuals are not always able to maintain public health measures consistently due to the nature of their work. Rapid antigen screening should not be used for symptomatic individuals or individuals with known close contact with a positive COVID-19 case. These individuals need to get a lab-based diagnostic PCR test.2
Why is there a funding requirement for businesses to participate in Safe Screen B.C.? How is Safe Screen B.C. funded?
Safe Screen B.C. operates as a partnership between Ministry of Health, PHSA and the Business Council of B.C.. The program is funded through a combination of private and public sector contributions, including from program participants.
What support and services do businesses receive from Safe Screen B.C.?
Business fees for Safe Screen B.C. goes towards resources to support businesses with setting up a safe effective screening program in the workplace. Test kits remain free.
Safe Screen B.C. aims to streamline and simplify the process of setting up and operating a screening program for businesses and will help reduce the time and effort required of the business operator to meet provincial health requirements.
Funding goes to providing the following services and resources for businesses:
- Application support: guidance and support to obtain PHSA approval.
- Training support: Facilitated virtual training sessions on how to fulfill application criteria and use rapid antigen tests.
- Scheduling tool: Access to a technology solution to help automate scheduling workers for screening appointments and to help automate reporting to satisfy reporting requirements
- Ongoing support: Tools and resources for businesses to set up and execute rapid screening in the workplace, including site plans, an employee FAQ library and quick reference sheets.
Ongoing guidance: Implementation coach and updates for businesses to stay in compliance with the provincial requirements
Why should workplaces implement rapid screening as vaccination rates climb and COVID-19 cases decline?
While vaccination rates are climbing, rapid testing continues to be one of the many public health tools available to drive down the transmission of COVID-19. (Other public health tools include vaccines, masks, PCR tests, etc.) Maintaining rapid screening will help provide another layer of protection for employers and employees to keep workplaces safe and to prevent potential workplace shutdowns. In addition, rapid screening can help protect workers given the potential for a rise in COVID-19 cases during the respiratory viral season in the fall and winter, and considering that not all employees or communities may be fully vaccinated.
Businesses interested in Safe Screen B.C. that have additional questions can send their inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org