KEY POINTS

  • Amazon was utilizing thermal imaging to monitor workers' body temperature in its warehouses
  • The process was meant to better streamline the testing process
  • This technology will likely be more widely adopted across the board to quell the spread of infection

Amazon has implemented the usage of thermal cameras at its warehouses in a bid to make screening employees for fevers a "more streamlined experiences." 

Businesses that reopen after the pandemic are expected to confront the questions of worker safety and business continuity amid a looming threat of a second wave of coronavirus infections. Thermal cameras are expected to help them detect and isolate infected employees before the coronavirus has a chance to spread further.

According to Reuters, thermal imaging cameras are quicker than having employees take the standard forehead temperature test Amazon has been implementing up until now. A high fever is one of the telltale signs of coronavirus. 

The cameras can measure just how much heat is radiating from each employee's body relative to their surroundings, and could very well mark a turning point for the way business go about testing their workers going forward in a bid to quell the spread of coronavirus going forward. So far, they've been set up in at least six warehouses around Los Angeles and Seattle. 

"We implemented daily temperature checks in our operations locations as an additional preventative measure to support the health and safety of our employees who continue to provide a critical service in our communities," said Amazon spokesperson Kristen Kish told The Verge. "We are now implementing the use of thermal cameras for temperature screening to create a more streamlined experience at some of our sites."

The camera systems can typically cost anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 if similar to the ones utilized by Tyson Foods Inc. and Intel Corp., which began seeing more widespread usage in Asia following the SARS epidemic that reared its head in 2003. Should any worker be flagged by the camera system, company employees will perform a thermometer check in addition to ensure an exact temperature is verified – despite some manufacturers insisting the cameras themselves are more accurate than thermometers. 

It's much more efficient to use cameras to analyze workers than taking a temperature from every single employee who heads to work (Amazon just added a whopping 100,000 employees to its workforce to offset its surge in deliveries). That's why it's highly likely Amazon is just the beginning for this new system, and as the coronavirus pandemic wears on, more and more companies may begin adopting a similar setup to save time and manpower. It may very well be the last bastion of defense against the disease. 

Amazon said it is moving to crack down on price gouging of items sought to protect agains coronavirus infections Amazon said it is moving to crack down on price gouging of items sought to protect agains coronavirus infections Photo: AFP / Philippe LOPEZ