With cases of covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, at more than 70 of its warehouse and delivery facilities in the U.S., Amazon has started to use thermal cameras to scan for fevers faster. The new measures were first reported by Reuters.
An Amazon spokesperson confirmed the use of the thermal cameras to the Verge and said that they were being implemented at some of the company’s sites. Thermal cameras measure the temperature of a person when compared to their surroundings. Per Reuters, the thermal cameras are being used in warehouses and require less time and contact than forehead thermometers. Amazon performs a second temperature check with a forehead thermometer on employees that are flagged by the cameras to get an exact temperature.
A fever is one of the most common symptoms of covid-19, along with tiredness and dry cough, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“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,” Amazon 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.”
Amazon began performing temperature checks and providing face masks to all its workers in the U.S. and Europe in early April following concerning reports about employee safety and pressure from lawmakers.
The company began setting up the hardware for the thermal cameras, which can cost between $US5,000 ($7,858) and $US20,000 ($31,432), this week and last week in at least six warehouses outside Los Angeles and Seattle. Reuters also found that Amazon would be using thermal cameras at employee entrances in many Whole Foods stores.
Employee safety has been a big issue at Amazon during the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused demand to skyrocket as people are asked to stay at home to avoid contacting and spreading the virus. There have been concerns about Amazon not supplying its workers with personal protective equipment (PPE) or for failing to close its warehouses even when workers had tested positive for covid-19.
Earlier this week, Amazon confirmed that a worker at a facility in California had died after contracting covid-19. The company alleges that the employee caught the disease while on vacation and had not been in contact with his coworkers since March 6. The employee died on March 31 after less than a week in the hospital.
In addition, on Wednesday Amazon temporarily shut down operations in France after a court found that it had poor safety conditions in its warehouses. Earlier this month, French labour officials had found that Amazon sites had a lack of hand sanitizer and masks available. They also were not convinced that the company had taken adequate steps to enforce social distancing.
Amazon employees are preparing a virtual walkout on April 24 to protest the recent firing of two employees who spoke out against conditions at the company’s warehouses and the lack of protections for workers on the front lines of the pandemic.