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    COVID-19: Temperature screenings the new norm for many industries

    Posted by James Williams

    Posted on 25th Jul 2020 in Office Culture, Workplace Wellness


    Non-contact thermometers were virtually unknown commodities outside of the medical industry prior to March 2020. The first attempts at patenting the technology came in 2008 by the Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation. The process was eventually abandoned, as perhaps the technology was not original. Tympanic thermometers are the ones that are stuck in your ear. They have been around for a while. These thermometers get a temperature reading from the tympanic membrane in the ear canal. Most people have likely had their temperatures taken like this at some point.

    Non-contact infrared thermometers (NCIT) were mostly used in research settings prior to COVID-19. They are held upwards of 15 centimeters (six inches) from the source, and get a temperature reading. A 2014 study by the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies set out to test the accuracy of such devices. It concluded that tympanic thermometers are accurate. But the accuracy of the infrared (touchless) thermometers was called "equivocal" and requires more research.

    Consulting firm Arizton is projecting that the infrared thermometer market will grow by 133% from 2019-2025. Forehead thermometers are expected to be the biggest mover, accounting for 38% of infrared thermometer sales in North America. All of this is due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing and face masks are ubiquitous. But infrared thermometers and temperature screenings are fast becoming the focus of state mandates and private business rules related to patrons and employees.

    Workplace temperature screening

    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Centers for Disease Control are facilitating mass deployment of daily temperature screenings. State and local governments were at first weary of the idea due to potential lawsuits and backlash. But the EEOC announced that it is unlikely to punish employers for screening workers due of CDC guidelines recommending it.

    The EEOC is urging employers to screen workers in a nondiscriminatory fashion. Who and how often people are screened is solely a business decision. Select screening is fine as long as candidates are chosen randomly, not based on race, sex, age or any other similar characteristic. Privacy is another issue since body temperature could be interpreted as medical information and thus protected by Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) Act regulations. Don't create a scene when someone is running a fever.

    Educate employees on the entire process beforehand. Make certain every employee receives written details about what is taking place and why. Ensure your company is also following state laws. Some jurisdictions require written notice to collect protected information from individuals.

    But what is a fever?

    The cliche healthy temperature for human beings is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (or 37 degrees Celsius). What constitutes a fever is an entirely different story depending on your locale.

    Ohio and Pennsylvania have statewide guidelines saying 100.4 degrees is a fever. You have a fever in Texas at 100 degrees. A fever in Delaware is 99.6 degrees. Individual companies are also setting their own guidelines. Walmart announced in May that any worker with a temperature over 100 degrees would be sent home. Fountain Valley, Calif. physician James Leo told Healthline that non-contact forehead thermometers are not 100% accurate and should not be the end all, be all for determining health.

    Eco Office take the safety of our clients and workers very seriously. We have remained open throughout the pandemic, providing essential services like plexiglass barriers and office partitions to help companies of all kinds comply with state safety mandates. Give us a call today at 408-437-1700 to discuss your plexiglass, partition, and office design needs.

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