As the country begins to take greater strides in returning to business, the need for precautionary measures, such as thermal imaging systems, is becoming more critical.

While quality, NDAA-compliant systems were widely unavailable months ago, the situation is beginning to change.

The Federal Drug Administration recently released its Enforcement Policy for Telethermographic Systems During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Public Health Emergency guidance.

Among other direction, the enforcement policy offers recommendations regarding the use and labeling of thermal imaging systems.

When implemented properly, quality imaging systems have been shown to measure a person’s surface skin temperature quickly and accurately, while allowing for contactless operation from a safe distance. (The specialist measuring the temperature could actually be in a completely different room.)

Thermal imaging systems are hailed for their ability to measure temperature at a more rapid rate than traditional forehead or oral thermometers, but the technology does have certain limitations.

  • Thermal imaging systems only detect an elevated temperature. They cannot definitively determine if an individual has COVID-19.
  • Accuracy is contingent on meticulous setup and handling, as well as environmental conditions (i.e. reflective surfaces and/or glass can interfere with readings).
  • The potential for user error is high. Personnel must be explicitly trained in system operation.
  • Discrepancies must be accounted for, as surface skin temperature differs from that measured orally (typically lower).
  • The use of thermal imaging systems may have distinct legal limitations, depending on the state and/or municipality in which they are being used, in addition to a slew of privacy laws and regulations, ADA compliance, and much more.
  • Perhaps most importantly, the quality and accuracy of thermal imaging systems will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, demanding great care and attention to be taken by the business owners implementing them.

Secom has been closely observing the industry throughout the pandemic. Our team is able to provide informed council to our clients nationwide on the prudence and practicality of implementing thermal imaging systems. We are rising to meet the growing need across industries for such technology, and our specialists address every case individually to match each client with the best equipment available. Contact us today to learn more.