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Thermal cameras: increasing safety in the workplace

With the ongoing challenges surrounding coronavirus, we continue to see a demand in elevated temperature detection devices.

Thermal imaging cameras

Thermal imaging camera sales have seen a dramatic rise worldwide as governments and organisations look for effective means of raised temperature detection.

However, these cameras aren’t medical devices and cannot diagnose a particular condition such as a virus.  What they can do is identify elevated body temperature, and that’s where they can add value to an organisation’s overall plan to tackle the spread of COVID-19.

In this blog we will cover:

  • What is a thermal camera?
  • Are thermal cameras new?
  • Can thermal cameras be used to detect COVID-19?
  • Long-term strategy

What is a thermal camera?

thermal camera1Thermal imaging cameras are designed to detect and measure the invisible infrared radiation emanating from objects, frequently referred to as a ‘heat signature’. The hotter an object is, the more radiation it releases.

The thermal camera is fitted with a specialist lens that enables infrared frequencies to pass through and on to a sensor array designed to detect and read them.  The sensor array converts the data to an electronic signal which is processed within the camera and then viewed as multi coloured images dependent on the heat emitted. 

We’ve all seen such images, often on wildlife programmes, with warmer elements in reds, oranges and yellows and cooler areas in blues and purples.

It is essentially a heat sensor that detects differences in temperatures.

thermal camera 2

Are thermal cameras new?

Thermal cameras have been around for decades and have been in widespread use in many sectors, from manufacturing and engineering where they are used for condition monitoring, through to security.  Within the security sector they are recognised as being highly beneficial when used in low light conditions and also in areas of poor visibility, such as where dense foliage is present.  

Thermal camera scan system orig copy

Can thermal cameras be used to detect COVID-19?

Thermal cameras are not medical devices and no thermal camera can diagnose corona virus or any other medical disease or virus.  Where they can be effectively used, however, is to identify and alert users to someone who has an elevated temperature.  This allows organisations to then move on to the next step in what should be a clearly defined protocol for dealing with a potentially unwell person, be that to refuse entry to that individual or advice to seek medical guidance.

Of course, it should be remembered that COVID-19 symptoms do not immediately show (the incubation period is relatively lengthy) and many do not present with an elevated temperature, so temperature measurement is not fool-proof.

There are multiple options that can deal with individuals where they can be managed via access control or options for larger groups walking through at the same time.

This technology should be one considered as part of an overall strategy of a broader safety and security plan to assist with staff safety and building control.

Long-term strategy

Adopting this thermal imaging technology should also be examined as part of a long-term strategy, looking at how it can serve a broader purpose in your overall safety and security, rather than just a knee jerk reaction to the current situation.  Investing in thermal cameras now is sensible, but looking to future proof your safety and security systems into the next decade is the smart approach.

If you have any questions or would like to implement thermal cameras* into your workplace, please get in touch.

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*Thermal imaging cameras are third party products. STANLEY Security is licensed to install these products.

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Monday, 25 May 2020