Checking Employees Temperatures to Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus in the Workplace

Galit M. Sacajiu, MD, MPH – Director, Medical Education

Checking Employees
Temperatures Guidelines

Analog Thermometers

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  • These thermometers consist of sensor matrixes of colored dots mounted at the end of a thin, disposable piece of plastic.
  • They are sterile single-use instruments, which reduce the risk of exposure to other people’s microorganisms.
  • The last dot to change its color indicates temperature reading.
Directions for Use Choose the most appropriate option. Oral
  1. Unwrap the thermometer and place it in the mouth under the tongue to one side of the center (into either heat pocket).
  2. Close the lips tightly around it (for at least 60 seconds for most brands).
  3. Remove it and look for the value of the last dot that changed color.
  4. Discard after use.
Armpit
  1. Place the thermometer high in the underarm in the center of the armpit with the dots facing the torso.
  2. Press the arm against the body.
  3. Leave the thermometer in place (for at least three minutes for most brands).
  4. Remove it and look for the value of the last dot that changed color.
  5. Discard after use.
  • These thermometers are typically plastic strips coated with heat-sensitive liquid crystals.
  • They are also sterile single-use instruments but are not as accurate as other thermometers.
Directions for Use
  1. Remove the backing to expose the adhesive.
  2. Clean the forehead with a soft cotton swab dipped in alcohol. Wait for the skin to dry.
  3. Place the strip on the center of the forehead, just above the eyebrows.
  4. Hold in place until the color stops changing.
  5. Read the indicator while it is still on the forehead.
  6. Discard after use.
  • These thermometers most likely need batteries.
  • Ensure that the thermometer you are about to use does not need recharging or replacement of battery.

Digital Thermometers

  • These thermometers are typically plastic strips coated with heat-sensitive liquid crystals.
  • They are also sterile single-use instruments but are not as accurate as other thermometers.
  • These thermometers are made of plastic and shaped like pencils. They have temperature probes and digital windows where temperatures are displayed.
Directions for Use Choose the most appropriate option. Oral: 
  1. Place the probe end of the thermometer in the mouth under the tongue to one side of the center (into either heat pocket).
  2. Close the lips tightly around it for the required amount of time (or until it beeps or flashes).
  3. Remove it and read the numeric value displayed.
  4. Clean it with cool, soapy water and rinse it off before storing it.
Armpit:
  1. Place the probe end of the thermometer in the center of the armpit.
  2. Press the arm against the body.
  3. Leave the thermometer in place for the required amount of time (or until it beeps or flashes).
  4. Remove it and read the numeric value displayed.
  5. Clean it with cool, soapy water and rinse it off before storing it.
  • To reduce the risk of cross-infection between employees, each probe is usually protected with a disposable cover.
Directions for Use
  1. Gently pull the ear up and back before placing the thermometer, as it helps achieve a more accurate reading.
  2. Place the probe projection in the ear opening. Center the probe tip in the ear and gently push toward the eardrum. Do not force it in.
  3. Press the button to start reading.
  4. Wait for the required amount of time or until it beeps.
  5. Remove it and read the numeric value displayed.
  6. After use, discard the probe cover.
  7. Wipe the thermometer with a clean cloth before storing it.
Note: Ensure that the thermometer is placed correctly in the external canal and verify if there is no wax blockage, as these factors might alter the readings.
  • These thermometers have probes that come in the forms of small “cups” that are moved over the temporal artery in the forehead.
  • They are easy to use and non-invasive.
Directions for Use
  1. Clean the forehead with a soft cotton swab dipped in alcohol.
  2. Press the “start” button.
  3. Place the probe cup flat on the middle of the forehead without leaving any space between the cup and skin.
  4. Slide the cup across the skin over the artery (from the center to one side).
  5. Wait for the required amount of time or until it beeps.
  6. After use, discard the probe cover.
  7. Wipe the thermometer with a clean cloth or swab before storing it.
  • These thermometers use infrared sensors to measure body temperature.
  • Their sensors read without the need for physical contact and disposable covers.
  • This kind of reading is an easy and fast method of screening numerous people.
Directions for Use
  1. Establish average temperature by screening a sample of at least 20 employees.
  2. Maintain at least 6 feet of distance within employees in the line.
  3. Turn the thermometer on and place it approximately 1” to 2” from the forehead or temple.
  4. Scan each employee in front of the thermometer for two to three seconds.
  5. Remove the thermometer and read the numeric value displayed.
  6. Wait for the required amount of time or until the thermometer beeps.

Healthwise Staff. “Body Temperature.” University of Michigan Health System (UMHS).
LINK. Accessed 10 April 2020.

Pickering, Dianne. “How to check and record a patient’s body temperature.” Community Eye Health. Volume 26, 83 (2013): 56.

“Non-Contact Thermometers for Detecting Fever: A Review of Clinical Effectiveness.” Ottawa (ON): Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health, 20 November 2014.
LINK. Accessed 10 April 2020.

Del Bene, In. “Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations.” 3rd edition. Boston: Butterworths; 1990. Chapter 218: Temperature.
LINK. Accessed 10 April 2020.

National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), “What to Do If You Are Sick.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
LINK. Accessed 10 April 2020.

Written By

Galit M. Sacajiu, MD, MPH

Director, Medical Education

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Doctor Galit M. Sacajiu article

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