Is my Building Ventilation safe for a return to the workplace?
As organisations start to reoccupy their premises post-lockdown, consideration of the risk of long-range airborne transmission of COVID-19 must be assessed and managed. Each room and space within a building needs to be specifically risk assessed to ensure that adequate ventilation and air distribution systems are provided.
The Federation of European Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Associations (REHVA) has recently updated its guidance on how to operate HVAC and other building service systems to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces.
The guidance provides a number of practical measures to follow:
- Provide adequate ventilation of spaces with outdoor air.
- Switch ventilation on at nominal speed at least 2 hours before the building opening time and set it to lower speed 2 hours after the building is vacated.
- At nights and weekends, do not switch ventilation off, but keep systems running at a lower speed.
- Open windows regularly, even in mechanically ventilated buildings.
- Keep toilet ventilation in operation 24/7.
- Avoid open windows in toilets to maintain the right direction of ventilation.
- Instruct building occupants to flush toilets with closed lid.
- Switch air handling units with recirculation to 100% outdoor air.
- Inspect heat recovery equipment to ensure that leakages are under control.
- Adjust fan coil settings to operate so that fans are continuously on.
- Do not change heating, cooling and possible humidification setpoints.
- Carry out scheduled duct cleaning as normal, there is no requirement for additional cleaning.
- Replace central outdoor air and extract air filters as normal, according to the maintenance schedule.
- Undertake regular filter replacement and maintenance works with common protective measures including respiratory protection.
- Introduce an Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) sensor network that allows occupants and building managers to monitor that ventilation is operating adequately.
There is further guidance to help your organisation make a safe return to the workplace available via RMworks, Griffiths & Armour’s online risk management portal.
If you have any questions or comments on the contents of this article, or if you would like more information on how to access RMworks, please get in touch with your Griffiths & Armour broker or you can contact Simon Stafford by clicking below.