As organizations everywhere begin the process of safely bringing employees and customers back into shared physical spaces, many have turned to thermal imaging solutions to screen temperatures and identify those who may have an elevated temperature prior to entering the building.
Whether your organization is currently using a thermal imaging solution to safely bring employees back to work or is considering some of the thermal imaging solutions on the market today as part of a future safe workplace initiative, implementing a screening protocol that protects employee and customer health, safety and privacy is essential.
Which temperature screening procedures are most important for employers to implement as part of their process? Here are the top 10 from JD Supra’s list of guidelines:
- Decide who will be screened. Depending on your organization’s location, building and number of employees, deciding who will be screened is a critical business decision. Whether you’re deciding to screen all employees and visitors or only those who may have been exposed to a person confirmed to have COVID-19, employers must ensure that all screening is done on a nondiscriminatory basis.
- Decide who will oversee the screening process. Ideally, organizations should carefully select human resources personnel or a person with a medical background to perform the screening process. This person needs to be trained on a variety of tasks like safety—including wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)—operating the thermal imaging solution, and confidentiality. Most importantly, this person needs to be trained on decision-making—specifically when employees should be sent home. A thermal imaging solution that screens individuals autonomously via IoT Smart Spaces can help ensure minimal employee exposure.
- Consider safety requirements. Your screening process must comply with federal, state and local health and safety laws to protect employees from potential workplace hazards. The federal Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA) recently released Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, which helps employers categorize their workplaces by risk, from “very high” to “low.” The higher the exposure risks, the greater levels of controls and protections OSHA recommends an employer implement.
- Determine which thermal imaging solution fits your needs. When selecting a thermal imaging solution, it’s important to consider how many employees you expect to screen daily, how quickly the solution can detect temperatures, and the accuracy of the solution. For organizations in need of autonomous screening systems and alerts pushed to HR personnel, thermal imaging solutions for detecting elevated body temperatures utilizing the Internet of Things (IoT) may be the best option.
- Determine where to conduct screenings. Whether your organization decides to screen building entrants inside or outside your building, avoiding dangerous bottlenecks at entrances and exits is critical. At the same time, if monitoring temperatures manually, you’ll also need to ensure that those being screened are able to practice physical distancing and remain at least six feet apart during the process. You’ll also need to clearly mark the screening area with signs, tape, markings or cones to direct traffic and ensure the safety of those who have “passed.”
- Develop a screening process. Whether you choose to screen employees inside or outside, the process should be easy for everyone to follow. First, determine what your workplace considers a “fever” (the CDC defines a fever as a temperature of 100.4° F or higher), and what the result of “not passing” the screening will be—is the person restricted from entering the building, sent home, or sent to another location for additional screening? What should you do if an employee refuses to be screened? Next, consider whether your process will include asking questions about COVID-19 symptoms beyond fever, like recent travel or potential exposure to an infected person. Other important process considerations are whether to stagger start times (if a large number of employees arrive to be screened at one time), how many screeners will be necessary, and what to do if a screener is late or cannot show up for the screening.
- Develop a private documentation process. Ensure that interactions and conversations between the employee and the screener are private and cannot be seen or heard by anyone else. Consider installing a privacy screen or barrier and designating a private area for those who do not pass the screening to move to discuss next steps. Likewise, you’ll need to determine what information about any person who does not pass needs to be documented, how it will be documented, which parties need to be alerted, and where that documentation will be confidentially stored. For this reason, you may want to consider recording only those who did not pass the screening, rather than documenting the temperatures of every individual entering the building.
- Clearly communicate the screening process to employees. It’s paramount that employees be informed about the screening process in advance, either through a written notice or verbally, so that they know exactly what to expect when screened. Most importantly, be sure to provide instructions to an employee who is sent home with a fever. It’s important to inform the employee in writing when they will be allowed to return to work and under what conditions, whether they will be allowed to work remotely, or whether the employee will be placed on paid or unpaid leave while not allowed to work (this may depend on company leave policies and possibly state or federal law).
- Develop a follow-up procedure for employees who have been sent home. After an employee is sent home, it’s important to follow up with them to find out whether they are showing further symptoms and if they have tested positive or negative for COVID-19. If they have tested positive, you’ll need to notify individuals with whom they have come into contact in accordance with CDC guidance and confidentiality considerations under the ADA.
- Establish return-to-work procedures. In the case of those who have tested positive for COVID-19, the CDC advises that employees should not return to work unless:
- The employee certifies in writing that they are fever-free and have been symptom-free for at least three days; AND
- At least 10 days have passed since the employee was sent home or tested positive for COVID-19.
- The employee provides a doctor’s note confirming that they may return to work, that they tested negative for COVID-19 (if testing is available), and that any additional symptoms are the result of a non-contagious illness.
The total impact of COVID-19 on the workplace remains to be seen, but with a well-developed workplace screening protocol in place, you can ensure the safety, privacy and well-being of your employees when they return to work.
To learn more about developing a successful temperature screening protocol, read JD Supra’s complete list of guidelines.
For more legal guidance on implementing a temperature screening protocol, visit:
OSHA: Guidance on Returning to Work
CDC: Safety practices for those returning to work
If your organization is considering a thermal imaging solution to support your back-to-work strategy, or you’d like guidance on developing an effective screening protocol, be sure to contact us, visit siriuscom.com/IOT for more information, or call 800-460-1237.