Preparing your facility before you reopen is important to make sure there is minimal chance of existing levels of COVID-19 present in your workplace. You will need to be flexible, inventive, and intuitive to address issues that can become evident as we learn more about coronavirus, its transmission, testing options and methods to minimize the spread. You will need to be involved and engaged with the local health care industry to develop partnerships to help you address these issues. Your goals are to:
- Provide leadership to build confidence
- Maintain healthy business operations
- Maintain a healthy work environment
- Reduce transmission among employees
Facility Entry and Acclimation
Using body surface temperatures as your screening procedure, means that you have to account and mitigate conditions that provide false indications of the internal body core temperature. The human body is a biometric machine that regulates temperature depending on external conditions.
- If it is cold outside, the body shunts heat away from the skin to keep the core temperature steady. This results in lower skin temperature during cold weather.
- If it is hot outside, the body moves heat towards the skin to radiate elevated temperatures to keep the core temperature steady. It also uses evaporation from sweat to help cool the body down. As the sweat evaporates, heat energy is carried away from the body.
- The sun also creates a heat load on the body as you stand out in the bright sun. The sun will elevate the body temperature and if extreme enough, it can lead to sun stroke. This elevates the body core temperature.
All three of these conditions need to be mitigated to get a more accurate body temperature using telethermography. That process is called acclimatization. Before the thermal screening takes place, people need to be in a controlled environment and out of the bright sun. Screening can take place outdoors but is generally not recommended. If it does take place outdoors, then large shaded areas should be provided to mitigate the suns effect.
Also rain or snow can affect the surface body temperature, so people need to have dry faces to mitigate the cooling effects of evaporation. Disposable paper towels, with sanitary disposal can be used shortly after they enter the building to dry their face.
As the people stand in line and maintain their social distancing, their body will slowly adapt to the interior temperature and provide a steadier temperature reading from the infrared equipment. Generally, the longer the acclimatization period the better, but no one wants to stand in line for 20 minutes, so a short period is better than nothing.
If should also be noted that other factors can affect core and surface body temperature. Drinking hot and cold beverages shortly before the scan can have some affects. Also, the use of aspirin or ibuprofen can decrease elevated core body temperatures, so the use of the product before entering the facility should be questioned before the scan takes place.
Screening Line logistics
The volume of people that are entering the facility needs to be carefully considered before establishing an IR Fever Scan program. If each person needs to maintain 6-foot distance from each other. Assuming a 2 square foot floor profile of your body and 3 feet in all directions, then that is 56 square feet per person. How big is the area that you are planning to set up your screening process?
A 1000 square foot lobby, if used exclusively for a screen line and used the most efficient line orientation could only hold 17 people. Take away some area for the primary and secondary screening area (150 sf total for both) and consider that there is no optimal way (perhaps 80%) to use every square foot of the lobby efficiently then you are down to about 12 people. If you have a secretary in the lobby to assist people to check in or provide assistance locating offices, then you are down to about 9-10 people.
If you have large volumes of people entering the facility and they have to stand outside (in a shaded area), then the line can become very long. 100 people with 6 foot spacing between people is 600 feet of line. 1000 people is 6,000 feet of line or more than a mile long.
Large facilities with large volumes of people entering the building will need multiple entrances for scanning, multiple scanning devices and then other exits for people to leave the building. The line leaving the building would also require 6 foot spacing between people inside the building. Where will all the people gather to leave your building?