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COVID-19 testing in the workplace

Testing for COVID-19 is a reality for many workplaces where employees are in close contact with each other or with the public. With a little planning, your COVID-19 lab testing program can be a convenient, cost-effective way to ensure the health of your employees. 

Consider lab testing on-site instead of relying on a reference lab

If an employee is positive for COVID-19, you want to know as quickly as possible. Many reference labs require a 48-to-72-hour turnaround time for test results – and in high-density or critical settings, workers risk exposing others while waiting for results. Employees who receive positive results for an on-site lab test can self-isolate quickly, limiting spread in your workplace.

Molecular, antigen or serology: Which type of testing is right for you?

Molecular testing

Molecular analyzers test for active infection using NAAT viral RNA. COVID-19 molecular tests are the most sensitive of the three options, offering accurate results with a quick turnaround time. These systems tend to cost in the $38-$43 per test range and include CLIA-waived options from Abbott, Cepheid, Roche and Sekisui. 

Antigen testing

COVID-19 antigen tests identify active infections using viral spike proteins. With high accuracy and fast turnaround time, you can expect to pay in the range of $7-$25 per test for an antigen reader or lateral flow rapid test kit. CLIA-waived options include Quidel Sofia® 2, BD VeritorTM Plus, Quidel QuickVue®, AccessBio CareStartTM and Abbott BinaxNOWTM

Serology testing

Serology testing identifies past COVID-19 infection exposure using IGM/IGG antibodies. It's a cost-effective method, offering a high degree of accuracy for in the range of $8-$10 per test. For example, Premier Biotech's system is CLIA-waived for fingerstick whole blood testing and offers results in less than 15 minutes. 

64% of occupational health providers are already providing COVID-19 testing in at least one of their facilities1

Implementing a testing program in your workplace

Follow these steps to implement a workplace testing program that works for you:

  • Review the CDC and OSHA guidelines for non-healthcare workplaces
  • Think about your organization's patient population. Who do you need to test for COVID-19, and why?
  • Understand what lab instruments and test menus are currently available to your organization
  • Decide on your lab testing strategy. Does it make sense to test workers at the point of care, or will you need to send tests out to a central lab and wait for results?
  • Consider improvements to make testing efficient and cost-effective, such as changes to your test menu, new instruments, formularies or staff training
  • Work with a knowledgeable distributor to help you implement and manage your testing program


1: Survey of attendees at AAOHN conference focus group led by McKesson Medical-Surgical, May 2021

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Be advised that information contained herein is intended to serve as a useful reference for informational purposes only and is not complete clinical information. This information is intended for use only by competent healthcare professionals exercising judgment in providing care. McKesson cannot be held responsible for the continued currency of or for any errors or omissions in the information.