As the coronavirus pandemic continues to pose a host of challenges to businesses around the world, many employees, customers, and business owners all share a common desire: they’d like to reopen and move the economy forward. Doing so requires a major change in the way businesses are operated, in many cases – with social distancing and COVID symptom monitoring now becoming standard in most workplaces. Thermal imaging cameras for businesses are a valuable tool in the arsenal meant to keep everyone on-site at your business safe and healthy.
There’s a lot to know about thermal cameras before installing one on your property, however. Fever surveillance comes with pros and cons, there are different types of thermal camera systems, and rather than having a standalone thermal imaging camera system for your business, you can tie it into your overall commercial security system. Here’s what you should know as you try to decide whether thermal imaging cameras for businesses make sense, whether you’re reopening your business or addressing COVID-19 security concerns for an essential business that has remained open throughout the pandemic.
Thermal Cameras for Businesses: 4 Things You Need to Know
The Pros and Cons of Fever Surveillance
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has guidelines for businesses to safely reopen, and among them are creating an employee wellness plan to monitor health. One of the recommendations is that all businesses keep in the loop with their employees regarding potential COVID symptoms and require temperature checks before people can enter the workplace.
Using thermal cameras for businesses to conduct fever surveillance is helpful because it can quickly identify individuals who might be ill (whether it’s with flu, COVID, or another contagious condition). Since fever is a hallmark symptom of COVID-19, it’s a good screening market to have in place.
Fever surveillance isn’t foolproof, however. People can have elevated body temperatures for reasons other than coronavirus infection. In addition to this, pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic carriers may not have a fever at all…while still being capable of transmitting the virus to others. Because of this, thermal cameras for businesses must be combined with additional preventative measures such as physical distancing, face coverings, and proper hand hygiene.
Even though they’re only one part of the puzzle, thermal cameras are an essential part of reopening, however. Unlike other types of thermometers, they allow the measurement of human body temperature without the need for physical contact. This eliminates the risk for both the person whose temperature is being taken and the person tasked with monitoring temperature scans.
Which Thermal Camera Systems Are Right For Your Business?
A bit of research into thermal cameras for businesses will reveal that there are many different options. Handheld infrared thermometers are a low-cost, portable way to take temperatures, but they have major drawbacks. For one: they require someone to be assigned as the temperature-taker who must come within a few feet of each person being scanned. In addition, taking individual temperatures can lead to lines and backups at entryways, especially during times when large numbers of people are arriving for work. Lines or groups of people bunched together is something all places are desperately trying to avoid while the virus continues to spread.
Many businesses find that it’s easier to have standalone thermal camera systems capable of scanning multiple people at once as they enter the premises. Thermal cameras can be fixed and installed out of the way, just like standard security cameras. There are also portable models available that can be affixed to a tripod or to a screen on which thermal imaging surveillance can be monitored by a staff member.
There are different thermal camera systems available for high, medium, and low traffic density. Businesses with a large traffic flow will want to opt for high traffic density thermal cameras, which are stationary/fixed, are automated, and can easily handle a large influx of people all at once. Medium traffic density cameras include portable devices and often require manual operation. Low traffic density devices cost the least and are available in both portable and stationary devices.
For a low-traffic density option that can be put anywhere within or outside of a property, a temperature measurement totem is an excellent choice. These temperature management stands are plug-and-play and don’t require installation. When an individual approaches it, the devices use facial recognition and takes their temperature with high precision.
Using Temperature Monitors Inside Your Business
For many employers, the use of temperature monitors is something completely new. This has given rise to questions about the legality of such checks – are they a violation of an employee’s medical privacy? SHRM points out that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has given employers permission to do temperature checks to help ward off the virus. The CDC defines a fever as a temperature of 100.4° F or higher, but individual states or employers may set their own temperature thresholds.
Just like your company (hopefully) has a business evacuation plan, it’s essential to have a specific plan in place for when a staff member or visitor displays an elevated temperature. Although employers are allowed to take employees’ and visitors’ temperatures, the resulting information gathered from temperature monitors is to be kept private. As such, it’s a good idea to plan for a discreet way of notifying the individual of elevated temperature and quietly informing them that they can’t be allowed entry into the building.
A large number of employers are working on setting up COVID testing for their employees. Some workplaces require routine testing, while others may test when a staff member exhibits symptoms or require a round of tests for everyone if one person tests positive. No matter what, it’s important to have a plan ready to go should someone develop the illness. Will you need to close down for cleaning and sanitizing? What if you need to have multiple employees self-quarantine? How will you notify members, customers, or visitors? With a plan in place beforehand, you won’t find yourself scrambling to act should someone test positive.
Tying Thermal Scanners Into a Complete Business Security System
The hallmark of an excellent commercial security system is that all of its elements work seamlessly with one another. This also holds true with thermal cameras for businesses; thermal scanners can be installed to communicate with your existing commercial security system.
For a company that doesn’t have the resources to devote someone to monitoring a thermal scanner feed throughout the day, many cameras have the ability to send out notification alerts when an elevated temperature is detected. (Most can sound an audible alarm, but as protecting each individual’s privacy is key, alarms should be routed to an area where only key staff members/management will be alerted.)
Just as with burglary, fire, and other alarms, thermal scanners can be programmed to send a text or email message to specific individuals when someone enters with elevated body temperature. This way, the person can be pulled aside and notified in a discrete manner and if additional testing or followup is necessary, those steps can be taken. In addition to text and email alerts, thermal cameras for businesses allow images of individuals scanned to be saved and accessed later.
Thermal cameras for businesses are finding their ways into a wide variety of industries anywhere that large groups of people work or do business. As they begin to appear in an ever-growing number of places, the question is largely shifting from “Is a thermal camera right for my business?” to “What type of thermal camera is right for my business?”
At ProTech Security, we have a strong history of experience, innovation, and customer service. The ProTech Security Advantage is more than 35 years of service in Northeast Ohio and a strong commitment to providing quality, cost-effective protection for homes, businesses, educational institutions, and government facilities. To see what ProTech Security can do for you, contact us today.