Amazon.com has started to use thermal cameras at its warehouses to speed up screening for feverish workers who could be infected with the coronavirus, employees told Reuters.
The cameras in effect measure how much heat people emit relative to their surroundings. They require less time and contact than forehead thermometers, earlier adopted by Amazon, workers said.
Cases of the virus have been reported among staff at more than 50 of Amazon’s US warehouses. That has prompted some workers to worry for their safety and walk off the job. Unions and elected officials have called on Amazon to close buildings down.
The use of cameras, previously unreported, shows how America’s second-biggest corporate employer is exploring methods to contain the virus’ spread without shuttering its warehouses.
US states have given Amazon the green light to deliver goods with nearly all the country under stay-at-home orders.
In France, Amazon has closed six of its fulfillment centers temporarily — one of the biggest fallouts yet from a dispute with workers over the risks of coronavirus contagion.
Companies that have explored using the thermal cameras include Tyson Foods and Intel. The camera systems, which garnered widespread use at airports in Asia after the SARS epidemic in 2003, can cost between $5,000 and $20,000.