ShapeShapeauthorShapechevroncrossShapeShapeShapeGrouphamburgerhomeGroupmagnifyShapeShapeShaperssShape

A Q&A with Tyson Foods: Why they're using walk-through temperature scanners

"We’re working hard to protect team members during this challenging and ever-changing situation, while continuing to fulfill our critical role of helping feed people across the country. Our growing list of protective measures are all essential in doing as much as we can to keep COVID-19 out of the workplace," said Tyson Foods in a press release.

14 April 2020, at 1:45pm

The company has purchased more than 150 infrared walk-through temperature scanners. So far, they have the scanners installed in four facilities; pork plants in Iowa and Indiana and poultry plants in Arkansas and Georgia. They expect that eventually every one of our food production facilities will have at least one in place. Hear from our Senior Vice President of Health & Safety, Tom Brower, as he explains why they're installing the scanners.

Why are you using this technology?

We need to ensure a safe work environment for our people. Exploring ways that are more efficient in keeping our team members safe is never a bad thing. This is a non-contact temperature scanner, so it’s seamless for our team members since all they need to do is walk through the detector zone. It doesn’t disrupt their routine, and it’s faster than using the handheld thermometers.

How do these walk-through scanners work?

All that team members have to do is walk through the detector zone one at a time. The non-contact thermal imaging system tracks them as a screen provides a real-time display of the maximum temperature reading of each person. If a team member’s temperature exceeds a fever-grade temperature, the system sets an alarm. One of our trained professionals will take additional steps and check that team members temperature with a temporal thermometer to verify their temperature. If a team member is sick, we’ll send them home.

a man walks between two yellow posts and a computer display shows his body temperature

Do infrared scanners detect COVID-19?

No. The makers of these devices have noted that the scanners only detect a person’s body temperature. We still choose to use them because it’s a safer non-contact option to check temperature. Just because it can detect a fever, doesn’t mean it can identify someone who potentially has COVID-19. We know that the virus can be in people who are asymptomatic. That’s why we’ve implemented other protective measures since January.

What other protective measures have you implemented?

We formed an internal COVID-19 task force in January and began isolating team members who could be at-risk by virtue of their travel. By the end of February, we had limited business travel, educated our team members about COVID-19 through digital signage, videos and other communications. We also encouraged sick team members to stay home by relaxing attendance policies, increased sanitation/disinfection efforts and implemented restrictions on visitors to our facilities. We’re also using temporal thermometers to take the temperature of every team member at every facility before they enter the workplace.

a man walks between two yellow posts and a computer display shows his body temperature

Have thermal imaging systems been recommended by federal agencies?

According to CNBC, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved infrared body temperature scanners to detect coronavirus fevers. The organization is exploring new guidance because of the COVID-19 outbreak. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use it. It means we should also be utilizing other protective measures and practicing social distancing.

Will you keep these walk-through temperature scanners for the long-term?

Since we’ve invested in the equipment, we may consider continuing to use them. This could help in the future flu and cold seasons to identify team members that are just starting to show symptoms and have them go home.