With resuming in-person services comes risks and concerns about health and safety. To keep employees and workers safe, many facilities are using infrared imaging and temperature checks as a form of preliminary screening to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.
One of the methods that have become increasingly popular is thermal scanning. Thermal scanning is unique in that it uses a large-scale camera system to measure the surface temperature of someone’s skin, like a body heat detector. This system also allows for users to avoid close proximity with those undergoing the thermal body scan, contrary to more traditional temperature scanners.
There are many factors to consider before installing infrared thermal imaging cameras. From the setup to basic scanning protocols we’ll review everything you need to take full advantage of using a thermal scanner in your facility.
Why Choose Thermal Scanning?
Thermal scans are highly beneficial for facilities that want to decrease the risk of exposure to COVID-19. According to the FDA, thermal scanning has been shown to be quite useful in detecting an individual’s skin temperature when used correctly.
Not only that, thermal imaging can be done nearly instantaneously and is faster than oral or forehead thermometers. Thermal scanning also protects administrators who are monitoring the system, even enabling those who oversee the thermal imaging system to be in a separate room from those being evaluated. To get the most accurate results with thermal scanning, the system should be used correctly, and proper procedures should be followed.
Thermal Scanning Do’s and Don’ts
It is important to note that thermal scanning should not be used as a mass temperature screener. Thermal scanning is more effective in low traffic areas to give a first initial screening; however, a secondary analysis is necessary for effective use.
To ensure accurate readings, the following factors must be in place:
- Your thermal scanning system is used in the right environment or location
- The system needs to be set up and operated properly
- Your staff should be trained on how to use the thermal scanning system
- Those being evaluated need to follow instructions before scanning
With these measures in place, a facility can ensure that a thermal scanning system is running efficiently and accurately.
Facilities looking to install thermal scanning need to consider the waiting area environment, the thermal scanning site. In order to get the most out of your thermal scanner, the CDC recommends that you set your system up in an area with access to plenty of available electrical outlets as well as a proper network connection. Facilities should ensure that the chosen thermal scanning location is one that will keep those in the area safe, the CDC guidelines recommend that users scan individuals before entry.
Proper Set Up and Operation
Proper setup can make all the difference in the success of your thermal scanner. Much like getting an accurate reading, setting up your thermal scanner for optimal operation can rely on several factors.
For one, your staff who are handling the system should ensure that all of the manufacturer instructions are fully adhered. Some thermal scanning systems require the use of a calibrated blackbody during evaluation to check the accuracy of the infrared temperature sensors. To find out whether your scanner needs a blackbody or not, refer to your manufacturer’s instructions. Lastly, you should warm up your thermal scanner before use. Most systems require that you turn them on for 30 minutes before beginning temperature scans.
Facilities should set protocols and consider best practices to achieve accurate temperature readings. Body temperature and readings can be affected by a wide assortment of factors including a draft, direct sunlight, room temperature (68-76 degrees Fahrenheit), humidity (10%-50%), strong reflective backgrounds (e.g. glass, mirrors, metallic surfaces), and strong lighting (e.g. incandescent, halogen, quartz, tungsten, and halogen lightbulbs). The CDC recommends that you give an individual time to re-regulate body temperature before scanning to ensure accurate results.
To ensure that the thermal screening readings are accurate, those who are being evaluated should be provided with instructions to follow:
- Ensure that no objects are obscuring their face before measurement (such as mask, glasses, hat, headband, scarf, etc.), that hair is pulled away from their face, and that their face is clean and dry.
- Make sure their temperature is not influenced by wearing warm clothing or head covers (e.g. headbands or bandanas) or from using facial cleansing products (e.g. cosmetic wipes).
- Wait 15 minutes in the measurement room. One should also wait 30 minutes after exercising, physical activity, bathing, using a hot or cold compress on the face before being scanned.
Instruction for Those Being Scanned
A large part of making sure that your thermal scanner is effective is ensuring that your staff is trained on how to use the equipment properly and that the scanning process i
s consistent. When developing your scanning process, it is also worthwhile to make sure that said process is documented and communicated with the staff.
Every thermal scanner comes with several different health and safety measures. Fortunately, the FDA has a rather detailed enforcement policy for thermal scanning systems during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
When scanning individuals, you’ll want to maintain the privacy of those who are being scanned. Your staff should also be properly compensated for the time it takes to be screened and evaluated.
If a fever is detected or someone is sent home in order to prevent spreading illness, it is important you provide clear instructions on how to proceed. Set guidance on when and how the individual may to return to work.
Utilizing Thermal Scanning at Your Facility
Thermal scanning is a solution for facilities looking to protect their facility by monitoring low-traffic entry points in a way that is contact-free, fast, and accurate. Not only that, but thermal scanning can provide additional peace of mind for both you and your staff. We’ve included additional resources for thermal scanning below. If you are interested in learning more about thermal scanning contracts we offer our members at CNECT, one of our representatives will gladly fill you in on all of the details.
CNECT Webinar – Protecting the Health of Your Facility with Thermal Scanning
FDA - Thermal Imaging Systems
FDA - Enforcement Policy for Telethermographic Systems During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Public Health Emergency