Millions of Americans are anxious to get out of the house and get back to work. Yet, no one truly knows what the workforce and the daily routines of going back to work will look like post-COVID-19. As leaders plan and prepare for the unknown, some are opting-in for digital health screening options. But the question remains, will it work as it relates to keeping people safe while on the job? Experts are saying that it might not.
In a recent New York Times piece, experts weighed in on a number of symptom-checking apps and fever-screening cameras that are said to predict sick workers and help flatten the curve. In short, they believe that a number of the devices could violate privacy and produce inaccurate reports.
For the story, The Times followed Subway franchise owner Bob Grewal who has begun screening his employees in Los Angeles. Grewal is using PopID, a facial recognition and fever detection camera service to take temperatures before staffers clock in and records historical health data. Grewal asked employees to check their temperatures four times a day.
“People are going to adjust,” Grewal told the Times. “They’re going to have to understand all the safety precautions that chains have taken.”
As leaders look for solutions to keep their businesses moving forward, experts say that added surveillance might not be as helpful as some might think.
Michael T. Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota told The New York Times, “I think employers need to look carefully before they jump into any of this. Some companies are embarking upon things that are not going to help and may actually set us back.”
To date, Salesforce and PwC are using similar technologies to help track employees through contact tracing. A number of employers are said to follow suit using similar mapping and surveying efforts to monitor employees based on White House guidelines to re-open America.
Experts believe that mandated health screenings could create a new class system for employment and a number of other issues.
Hank Greely, a professor at Stanford Law School who studies the social implications of new health technologies told the Times, “Do we really want a world where some people can go to work and others can’t based on their immunity status? The people who can’t will say, ‘This is unfair,’ and they’ll be right.”
Others have expressed concern about inaccuracies from infrared technologies that can’t detect sickness in people who are asymptomatic.
Health screenings can change the workforce indefinitely. For that reason, some employers are taking their own health and safety measures so that screening technology doesn’t interfere with how they do business.
For more insight, continue to read the full story on The New York Times.