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Returning to Work Amid COVID-19: How Thermal Imaging Technology Can Help

July 16, 2020 - Security, Office Technology

Returning to Work Amid COVID-19: How Thermal Imaging Technology Can Help
Peter Slabinski

Posted by Peter Slabinski

With many cities and states easing stay at home orders, employees are beginning to return to work. With this change, businesses are faced with an array of challenges to ensure the safety of employees and customers.

It may be easier for small businesses to adhere to CDC safety guidelines like social distancing, contact tracing and the wearing of face masks, but enforcing and regulating the same policies are difficult for large companies and facilities with hundreds of employees.

As businesses look for a solution to ensure the safety of their employees and workplace, many are turning to thermal imaging cameras and advanced surveillance systems to help.

Introducing Employees Back into the Workplace

As employees return to work, it’s important that businesses establish daily protocols for navigating the new normal work environment.

Suggested protocols include daily symptom screenings of employees before they enter the premises, taking employee temperatures as they enter the building, requiring the wearing of masks, asking employees to stay six feet apart from one another, and reporting confirmed cases to health officials and colleagues who have come into contact with the infected employee.
In theory, these steps should be simple, but in practice they can quickly become overwhelming for one HR Manager or Health and Safety Specialist to manage themself. With the use of MOBOTIX thermal imaging solutions, SymQuest, through Konica Minolta, has designed an actionable Return to Work Program as a guide for businesses navigating the process.

Download Your Ultimate Guide for Returning to Work Today and Planning for  Tomorrow

Self-Reported Symptom Screening

Self-reporting can be a very helpful aspect in getting employees back into the workplace safely.

As part of the program, an automated email is sent daily to each employee, prompting them to fill out a form and answer a series of questions regarding their health. On the form, employees can document how they are feeling including any aches, pains, fatigue, or unusual temperature readings.

At the end of the form, based on their answers, employees will be told if they are fit to go to work that day, if they should stay home and isolate, or if they should seek medical attention. This information is then kept on file and available in case the employee has a temperature when they arrive at work, or if they have other symptoms that require attention.

Measuring Employee Temperatures

Thermal imaging may be one of the most beneficial aspects of the program because of its capabilities now, and what it can offer later. With thermal imaging through MOBOTIX equipment, a defined area can be monitored, and a temperature range can be set. All employees who enter that area will automatically have their temperature read.

The thermal imaging system can detect an abnormal temperature outside the designated range and alert managers that additional actions are needed. The second level of screening can then be a traditional temperature check with a handheld thermometer. If an employee has an unhealthy temperature, the manager then has access to their self-reported screening from earlier in the day, which may indicate other symptoms that should be taken into consideration when determining if the employee can stay in the workplace for the day.

The camera and on-site screening options can also be configured to detect the wearing of masks to ensure that all employees are following protocols while entering the building.

Incident Management

If a case is opened for an employee experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, the incident management platform provides trained personnel with all the resources needed to act responsibly.

Throughout the process, the system can track key aspects including reported symptoms, testing requests from the organization and those results, employee communication and documentation throughout, and other employees who should be notified of the potential COVID-19 case.

All information is kept securely and only accessible to those with credentials. Furthermore, cloud-based storage allows for on-demand retrieval, review and reporting. Businesses can be confident that a potentially infected employee has followed safety guidelines and will not put other employees at risk while in the workplace.

Contact Tracing

In conjunction with indecent management, contact tracing is made simple with all information being stored in one place. If needed, an employee’s file can be accessed and details like who they may carpool to work with, which colleagues they come into contact with through their shift, or in meetings, and therefore, who may need to be contacted in case of a potential case, can be accessed and acted upon.

Implementing Thermal Imaging Solutions

Thermal imaging technology is an effective and proactive solution for businesses to ensure that everyone working on site has a temperature within CDC recommended range, reducing the risk of spreading the virus.

While many thermal imaging solutions on the market are bulky and cumbersome to use - leading to long queues outside office buildings - and require multiple staff to maintain it, the MOBOTIX system is designed to be robust and easily integrate with existing systems. With MOBOTIX thermal cameras, temperatures of those entering the building can be captured from 1-5 meters away, eliminating lines at building entrances or check points.

When the MOBOTIX system detects an individual with an elevated temperature, a notification is automatically sent to management and the individual with a high-risk heat signature can be screened again, allowing staff to quickly isolate potentially sick building visitors or employees without a line or queue for manual temperature checks.

The MOBOTIX thermal imaging system is a trusted option due to its vast technical capabilities, which include:

  • Double vision lenses for color and thermal pictures
  • Live monitoring capabilities
  • Automatic alarm reporting and alert from a distance
  • Customizable temperature range for multiple applications
  • Temperature range from -40 degrees Celsius to 550 degrees Celsius
  • A decentralized concept for maximum flexibility and add-on capabilities
  • Excellent image quality no matter the environment or lighting conditions

These capabilities can of course be utilized by most businesses throughout the current pandemic, but also later as situations evolve.

After the pandemic, the system can improve building security by being added to an existing surveillance system. This can allow for monitoring of equipment and work areas and alert personnel to overheating, detect overcrowding of defined areas, recognize if someone enters an area not wearing a mask, and spot unwanted items left behind, among many other abilities and applications.

Return to Work Today, Plan for Tomorrow

As businesses learn to adapt to the new normal and take much needed precautions to keep employees and workplace visitors safe, it’s important to have a plan, such as the Return to Work program, to make day-to-day operations as smooth and trackable as possible.

With the help of MOBOTIX thermal imaging cameras, taking employee’s temperatures, keeping a record of reported symptoms, and incident mitigation is an attainable hurdle for businesses of any size.

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Peter Slabinski

about the author

Peter Slabinski

Peter Slabinski is a Solutions Technology Consultant for SymQuest. He has over 18 years’ experience working with clients to solve business challenges by presenting solutions that leverage technology while focusing on ROI to achieve client goals.