As we march deeper into 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic is unfortunately far from over. While many people continue to work from home to avoid exposure and infection, others cannot adequately do their jobs remotely or want to return to the workplace after months of quarantine.
If your company has employees working in the office, it’s important to take steps to ensure everyone stays as safe and healthy as possible.
For those in need of guidance, the CDC and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have released instructions for businesses detailing how to minimize the chances of a COVID-19 outbreak. One suggestion from the CDC involves conducting daily health checks – either in person or virtually – for symptoms of illness before employees enter the building. As companies search for ways to screen staff members for symptoms while still maintaining social distance, thermal imaging solutions have started to make headlines and generate buzz as a potential screening tool for elevated body temperature – one of the common signs of COVID-19 infection.
If you’re a business leader considering how to keep your team healthy during this ongoing public health crisis, here’s what you should know about thermal imaging solutions.
How Thermal Imaging Works
Thermal imaging systems, or infrared thermographic systems, gauge the surface temperature of your skin, according to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). This technology’s main advantage over other temperature-taking methods (e.g., traditional thermometers) is that it doesn’t require close proximity to the person you’re evaluating. This makes it a relatively safe way to screen for possible COVID-19 symptoms.
However, the FDA notes that thermal imaging can’t definitively tell you whether someone has the novel coronavirus. People with COVID-19 don’t always have a fever, and elevated temperature can result from other infections and conditions. As a result, it’s imperative that you only use thermal imaging technologies as an initial screening tool, with a process in place for further diagnostic procedures if someone has a higher than normal temperature.
On top of that, you should also work with your HR department to determine what to do if someone has a fever. You’ll want to respond in a way that aligns with any relevant regulatory and company guidelines while also preserving the employee’s privacy.
Additionally, the accuracy of thermal imaging tools depends on correct set-up and operating procedures. They also haven’t demonstrated the ability to properly take the temperature of more than one person at a time, according to the FDA. It’s important to keep these limitations in mind if you choose to use thermal monitoring cameras as a screening solution.
Types of Thermal Monitoring Solutions to Consider
Thermographic imaging solution suppliers can provide your company with a wide range of products, depending on your particular needs. These are just a few examples of what you can purchase for your physical location(s):
- Metal detectors with thermal imaging cameras built in
- Mounted thermal imaging cameras that double as regular security cameras
- Hand-held thermal monitoring cameras
These solutions can prove useful in many settings, from hotel lobbies to stadiums to office buildings. As we navigate the “new normal” of a world still in the throes of a pandemic, implementing measures like thermal cameras for health checks is key to minimize risk levels and keep everyone as healthy and safe as possible.