Fevers and Coronavirus: What You Need to Know About Taking Temperatures
As businesses begin to reopen, many are instituting temperature checks before employees or clients are allowed to enter. Organizations should understand the best practices before adding that type of policy. They should also understand that temperature checks are only part of a comprehensive health and safety strategy.
Understand the Limitations
Checking temperatures is a valuable tool to help ensure the health and safety of employees and clients, but it isn’t foolproof.
For one thing, not everyone with the coronavirus has a fever or an elevated temperature. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 83-99% of people with COVID-19 experience a fever, and people typically don’t show symptoms for 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.
As many as 13% of infected persons show no symptoms, according to the CDC. People who are asymptomatic can still infect others. Also, other diseases can cause fevers as well; not everyone with a fever has COVID-19.
Consumer-grade, handheld thermometers are widely available. Many of these devices cost less than $100.
Those products use one of three technologies: thermal, infrared and tympanic. A review of 16 studies by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, part of the National Institutes of Health, found that tympanic thermometers, which are inserted into the ear canal, are the most accurate. The other two types of thermometers varied in accuracy.
Inexpensive handheld scanners have other drawbacks:
- Increased exposure risk, as operators must violate social distancing guidelines
- Slow when scanning many people
- Risk of cross-contamination when scanning multiple people
- Labor intensive
- Faulty readings and errors triggered when ambient temperatures and conditions fall outside desired ranges
Put simply, inexpensive, handheld forehead scanners may be too inaccurate, slow and inconvenient for widespread business use.
Benefits of a System
For many organizations, particularly those that need to screen a significant volume of employees, tenants or visitors, a thermal camera system is a better solution than a handheld.
Commercial-grade temperature screening systems—those designed for human bodies, not industrial applications—have many benefits over handheld, consumer-grade units:
- Automated; no need for a human operator to get close to subjects
- Automatically find the subject’s face, forehead and eyes
- Much more accurate, up to within 0.3 degrees Celsius
- Alerts/Alarms to indicate fever
- Results are logged and saved
- Compensates for ambient temperature
- Compensates for distance
- Portable for use in different areas
- Fast; designed for high volumes
- Self-calibrating for minimal temperature drift
- Advanced analytics for minimal false alarms
Most temperature screening systems can be used as stand-alone systems or integrated with security or video management systems, and they can be networked.
Best Workplace Practices
Taking the temperature of everyone who enters a facility is one step in protecting occupants. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) recommends that organizations and facilities managers also follow these practices:
- Develop policies and procedures for workplace health and safety
- Develop an infectious disease preparedness and response plan
- Promote frequent and thorough handwashing, and make handwashing stations and hand sanitizer widely available
- Encourage sick employees to stay home
- Encourage respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes
- Establish policies that help workers distance themselves, such as remote work and staggered shifts
- Discourage workers or visitors from sharing equipment
- Maintain stringent cleaning and disinfecting practices
Training and Educating
Sunstates Security has added mandatory COVID-19 courses for all employees to its in-house Learning Management System, which tracks completion. Those courses include basic COVID-19 safety, how to use Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), how to properly conduct temperature checks, how to sanitize patrol equipment, and an employee pledge to uphold company guidelines, based on CDC and local government standards and regulations. All security personnel, whether supplied by a security partner or part of an in-house security team, should be specially trained to mitigate COVID-19 threats.
To learn more about how Sunstates Security can support your organization’s health and safety efforts, call 866-710-2019 or email us.