The importance of office ventilation during the Covid-19 epidemic

Health & Safety

As vaccinations increase, in time, many companies will look to slowly reopen their premises as a way to impart a sense of normality for employees. In this blog, we set out the importance of good ventilation as part of this process.

office ventilation

Why air flow is important

Good air flow reduces the concentration of the virus inside the air and consequently reduces the dangers from airborne transmission. This occurs when employees breathe in small particles (aerosols) inside the air after a person with the virus has stayed with an enclosed area of the office.

However, ventilation can have very little or no impact on contact transmission routes.

You ought to think about ventilation when onboarding relevant management measures needed to scale back the risk of transmission as part of making your office COVID-secure.

Natural ventilation tips

Providing adequate ventilation doesn’t mean that the office has to be cold.

Good ventilation may be a balance between ensuring the office is warm whilst keeping a flow of air within the designated area.

Straightforward steps, such as part-open windows, would be enough to ensure sufficient air flow is maintained. This can be combined with heating systems to ensure an adequate temperature within the workplace.

Airing rooms as often as possible can facilitate improved ventilation. This involves fully opening all doors and windows to maximise the air flow within the room. The perfect time to do this is when the space is unoccupied or between uses. Fire doors, however, should never be propped open.

Mechanical air circulation

Air conditioning brings fresh air into a building and can include both cooling and heating. Systems that provide both heating and air conditioning are known as heating and ventilation air conditioning (HVAC).

To help reduce the risk of airborne transmission:

  • make sure mechanical systems are maintained in line with legislation and manufacturers’ instructions
  • continue using air conditioning as normal and set them to maximise fresh air and minimise recirculation
  • consider extending the operating times of HVAC systems to before and after people use work areas

Also consider using carbon dioxide (CO2) monitors to identify the CO2 levels to help decide if ventilation is poor. CO2 monitors are most effective for areas that are regularly attended by the same group of people.

Find out more

Is your workplace compliant in terms of health and safety? Contact us to help us help you become more compliant.

References

Chartered institution of building services engineers advice on ventilation

Tags
Coronavirus , COVID-19 , Health & Safety , Health & Safety at Work , Ventilation
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