A Guide to Employee Coronavirus Temperature Screening

Posted on July 07, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the way businesses operate around the country. As states slowly begin to reopen for business, there are lingering concerns about how to safely begin going back to work, meeting with customers, Coronavirus temperature screening, and ensuring employees are protected. All of these concerns are compounded by the threat of a second wave of coronavirus cases and what additional lockdowns could mean for businesses already struggling to recover from an unexpected shutdown.

As experts learn more about this novel virus each day, new recommendations are being made. People are told to maintain social distance, wear masks, and implement coronavirus temperature screening where possible. That final recommendation regarding temperature screening comes directly from the CDC and may be an important tool to help prevent further infection and ensure the recovery of business continues until an effective treatment or vaccine is developed.

Is Coronavirus Temperature Screening Mandatory?

Many businesses have been questioning the process for temperature screening of employees. Is the practice mandatory? Is it even legal?

It’s important to understand that, on a national level, coronavirus temperature screening by employers is not mandatory. However, it is strongly recommended for businesses with more than 50 employees and businesses where maintaining social distance may not be realistic. Temperature screening is just one part of an overall COVID-19 mitigation strategy that includes:

  • Maintaining 6-feet of physical distance
  • Wearing face masks
  • Installing physical dividers
  • Ensuring employees that display any symptoms of COVID-19 do not come into work and isolate for the required amount of time, or until a test can be conducted

Staying up to date on national recommendations, as well as local advisories from health officials, is the most important step to ensuring compliance with reopening rules.

How is Coronavirus Temperature Screening Conducted?

Temperature screening can be done relatively quickly and easily with a number of different tools available on the market. Places like busy airports, for example, may implement infrared cameras that monitor all travelers for a temperature at or exceeding 100.4 degrees. Smaller businesses are more likely to adopt handheld sensors that can read the temperature of someone from a distance. Other organizations are incorporating personnel management kiosks, which allow employees to simply walk up to a thermometer stand to have their temperature taken- with zero human contact.

Employees that are conducting temperature checks should practice safe physical distancing from the people they are testing. This means that devices that require contact with the subject may not be the best solution. These employees conducting testing should also be wearing personal protective equipment like a face mask, face shield, and protective gloves. Protective equipment should be changed regularly, and employees should wash their hands frequently as well as sanitize surfaces or equipment they are interacting with while doing temperature checks.

What if Someone Displays a Fever of 100.4 Degrees or Higher?

If a routine temperature check discovers that someone is running a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, the person should be sent home immediately and told to isolate until health officials give them direction otherwise. In most cases, the person will be told to undergo testing for COVID-19 to confirm their infection status. Anyone who was in close contact with the person showing a fever should also be sent home and told to isolate.

It’s also important to keep an eye out for symptoms other than just a fever. Some infected patients may not display a fever but show symptoms like shortness of breath, coughing, or fatigue. While these may be symptoms of other, less serious conditions, it is advised that the employee be sent home to isolate until a COVID-19 test can be completed.

What if Employees Refuse Coronavirus Temperature Screening?

Employers have the right to make temperature screening a condition of employment. If temperature screening is implemented and an employee refuses to be screened, they may be sent home at the employer’s request. Before disciplining employees who refuse to test, legal advice should be sought out.

One way to avoid this challenge is to clearly outline return to work procedures including coronavirus temperature screening and make a clear request for anyone displaying any symptoms of COVID-19 to remain home, self-isolate, and advise local health authorities.

How to Implement Temperature Screening

Various tools and equipment are needed to effectively implement coronavirus temperature screening in the workplace. For help with choosing the right equipment and learning about the available options, contact the experts at RJ Young today.

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