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Temperature Check & Monitoring: Frequently Asked Questions and Guidelines

Q. What can be done to protect the employees conducting temperature screening?

A.

There are more than one ways you can use to protect the employees conducting temperature screening at the entry point of your facility:

  • Social Distancing: Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from those coming for screening. If social distancing is maintained, there is no need to wear personal protective equipment (PPE). You can ask people to take their own temperature either before coming or upon arrival. Also visually inspect visitors for signs of illness, like flushed cheeks or fatigue.
  • Barrier/Partition Controls: The screening personnel can stand behind a physical barrier, like a glass or a plastic partition or window. This will basically reduce the chances of transfer of any respiratory droplets from visitor to the screener’s face and mucous membranes when anybody sneezes or coughs.
  • Non-contact Thermometer: Use non-contact or disposable thermometer to check temperature. Clean and disinfect thermometers according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • PPE: If social distance or barrier controls cannot be implemented during screening, screening staff can use PPE like a face mask, eye protection, or disposable face shields, disposable gloves, and a gown could be worn if extensive contact with an employee is required. If a non-contact thermometer is not available, replace the gloves and mask after each screening.

Q. Are small businesses required to have a Temperature Check facility?

A.

This is totally state specific. State health departments have issued individual advisories for workplaces in general to contain the spread of COVID-19. While only a few states “require” temperature screening of employees, most states “recommend” doing it. Barring a few, most jurisdictions have not specified the size of the business required to have the temperature check facility.

For example - In Colorado, only large businesses with over 50 employees are required to have a temperature check facility. There is no such requirement for small businesses with staff size less than 50. Some other states have recommendations for restaurants, bars, casinos, gyms, fitness centers, personal care services,

Q. Why should temperature screening be conducted?

A.

Because of COVID-19, temperature screening is becoming a norm at workplaces. High body temperature is one of the first signs in illnesses like influenza and COVID-19. A temperature higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit may indicate that your body is combating an infection.Therefore temperature screening must be conducted at workplaces even if the employee or visitor looks healthy. Temperature scanning will help detect people who might be unsafe if they come in contact with other people in your facility. By separating such individuals, you can protect the health and safety of other customers, staff, and visitors. Also, customers and employees will frequent such businesses more often which have temperature screening systems as their routine requirement.

Q. Is it legal to check the body temperature of a person entering your facility?

A.

Yes, provided that temperature screening is conducted safely, consistently and in a non-discriminatory manner.

Although, taking the employee's body temperature falls under medical examination. And, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits conducting medical examinations, in general, unless they are job-related and consistent with business necessity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health authorities have acknowledged that COVID-19 spreads through contact and have been stated that “employers may measure employees' body temperature.”

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has also allowed businesses to check the body temperature of employees and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The temperature result and all information about employee illness, however, should be kept confidential in compliance with the ADA and the screening staff should be trained on the procedure. 

Q. What should be the minimum temperature value to deny entry to someone?

A.

This again is state-specific. So while the minimum temperature value to be considered as fever is 100.4 degree Farenhite in Ohio, it’s 99.5 degrees in Delaware. Since businesses are private properties, they can make their own rules regarding entry or follow the state recommendations. High body temperature can be one of the early symptoms of coronavirus and therefore businesses and workplaces may deny entry to employees, customers, or visitors based on their temperature results. Individuals with body temperature higher than the limit set by the public health departments in states can be considered unsafe for others and therefore they can be sent home. CDC clearly states that individuals should be encourages not to attempt to enter the workplace if fever equal to or higher than 100.4oF*. It also suggests that a lower temperature threshold (e.g., 100.0 degree F) may be used in healthcare settings.

Q. Is temperature checking a safeguard against Coronavirus?

A.

CDC states that “Screening employees is an optional strategy that employers may use.” Conducting temperature checks will not be a sureshot measure to identify Coronavirus carriers. That’s because even asymptomatic individuals with lower temperature may carry the virus without realizing and are capable of passing it to everyone in a gathering. While fever can be a symptom of Covid-19, not everyone infected with the virus develops a fever. Even the accuracy of thermometer guns and scanners is questionable. Temperature screening and other health checks should not be considered a replacement for other protective measures such as social distancing to prevent the spread of disease.

Q. What are the CDC guidelines for COVID Temperature Screening?

A.

There are two approaches suggested by the CDC for safe temperature screening. Following are the guidelines under each of these approaches:

Barrier+PPE Approach

  • The screener shall stand behind a physical barrier, such as a glass or plastic window or partition.
  • Use disposable gloves while checking the temperature.
  • Screener’s face shall remain behind the barrier at all times during the screening.

PPE Approach

  • The screener must use a face mask, eye protection (goggles or disposable face shield), disposable gloves and a gown (if required) when taking temperatures.
  • Use a clean pair of gloves for each employee when conducting temperature checks on multiple employees. This is not required if the screener is using a disposable or non-contact thermometer (infrared thermometers, tympanic thermometers, and thermal scanners) and physical contact is not made with the employee.
  • Clean the thermometer after each use if physical contact is made.
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