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Technology steps up to help employers protect against COVID-19

Tuesday, September 15th, 2020

We all know about one device that helps keep everyone safer during the coronavirus pandemic – the face mask.

But there are higher-tech devices that also help – things like simple software solutions, wearable devices and apps. And increasingly, employers are using them across the country to keep their workers, and their customers, alive and healthy.

Technology can do a lot to help support distancing, prevention and detection. We linked to an article about this on social media recently. Today, we thought we’d take a closer look, with the help of the Risk & Insurance website.

Here are the five areas the article described where technology is helping:

Social Distance Tracking

Wearables, mobile devices and other sensors can help employers support social distancing. These technologies typically use location and proximity sensing to determine when a worker may be too close to another. Safety science company StrongArm Tech offers a wearable device that flashes and vibrates when it detects another sensor within 6 feet. Professional services firm PwC has developed a way to use Bluetooth and WiFi signals from employees’ smartphones to detect how close they get to each other.

Symptom Checking

Many companies are deploying simple screening apps on mobile devices, tablets or other peripherals to quickly question employees before the start of a shift. Microsoft and United Health have an app to help employers screen workers for the virus and to develop testing guidelines. ProtectWell offers a daily symptom screener that runs users through a series of questions and either clears them to return to work or directs them to be tested.

Thermal Imaging and Temperature Checks

You’ve been through this if you’ve visited a hospital or doctor’s office recently. New telethermographic systems now measure skin temperature from a distance, then use a complex algorithm to determine underlying body temperature. It’s certainly a lot easier and less intrusive than going about using a thermometer on employees all day.

Software and Apps

Environmental, health and safety software can help employers track systems, conduct assessments and communicate with employees. Kodak Alaris’ IT department developed an interface for employees to self-screen on their mobile devices before coming to work. The brief questionnaire checks for symptoms and concludes with a red or green screen to allow or deny entry to the facility. When combined with strict check in-checkout scanning tools on job sites, employers can even have a clear record of all interactions.

Disinfecting Robots

What sort of high-tech list would this be without robots? Several robotics manufacturers are bringing new machines to market that can sanitize workplaces by spraying disinfectants or cleaning walls and surfaces with ultraviolet rays. Fetch Robotics has collaborated with Build with Robots to develop Breezy One, a small robot that can decontaminate spaces over 100,000 square feet in only 1.5 hours.

Nothing is perfect of course, and we still have a lot to learn about this health threat. So it’s best to use common sense – and of course masks, and social distancing.

If you’re looking for other ways to protect employees – such as providing the right benefits – or otherwise mitigating risks at work or home, please reach out to the professionals at South Risk Management.