Ventilation and Covid-19: 5 Facts You Need to Know
February 22nd, 2021
Last updated: October 12th, 2022
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has affected all aspects of our lives, but particularly our work life.
Some people are still visiting their normal workplace, at least regularly if not daily, and given that we spend 90% of our lives indoors, it is important to have effective ventilation, and even more so at the moment for obvious reasons. Scientific evidence is showing that airborne pathogens move around buildings at all times, so if you are not working from home and share a workplace with others, being in a well-ventilated room is vital in reducing the transmission of COVID-19 at work.
Air conditioning is standard in many offices, retail spaces and hospitality, as well as in many other commercial and industrial sectors, whilst other HVAC systems are also available. They need to be fit-for-purpose in terms of a design spec, and effective in cleaning air and removing potentially contaminated air. Ventilation of the workplace is growing increasingly important as talk intensifies about lockdown restrictions being eased during 2021, and this – along with general hygiene standards – will become a critical factor in people feeling safe to return to work.
So what are the key facts about ventilation that people need to know when assessing a post-COVID work life and getting back to work again?
Reduced Risk of Infection
Scientific research shows that being in a room with fresh air can reduce your risk of infection from COVID-19 particles by over 70%, because fresh air dilutes the COVID particles and disperses them. Therefore, an effective ventilation system is critical to providing a safe workplace.
Factors Affecting Ventilation
The source of ventilation that is suitable for a room depends on its size, the occupancy rate and the activities carried out in that space. In some rooms, open windows creating fresh air may be sufficient to maintain it as adequately ventilated. In other rooms – where the room is smaller, occupancy is high for the space available and there are high levels of movement – this air may need to be circulated by a powered unit and system.
How Does Ventilation Work?
An effective HVAC system can reduce the spread of COVID-19 by increasing the rate of air exchange and reducing the recirculation of stale or contaminated air. This also acts to increase the use of fresh air from outside to purify the atmosphere.
Using the Right Kind of Ventilation
In a workplace the use of a table, pedestal or ceiling fan to ventilate a room might not be sufficient. This might be OK at home, but at work you are in contact with people external to your family unit and hence ventilation needs to be maximised. A standalone fan unit will only move or circulate contaminated air around a building, it will not necessarily remove it from the building. And even opening doors and windows is not a guarantee that you are creating an adequate source of clean air. Only a specifically designed HVAC system can do that.
A ventilation system needs to be serviced and maintained to ensure it is purifying the air to the right standard and to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Filters are used to maintain airflow in the building; to help remove air from a building and replace it with clean air from outside. Filters can become clogged or damaged over time and need to be inspected and periodically replaced. This is critical to maintaining the high standards of air cleanliness required to manage exposure to and transmission of the COVID-19 virus, so a planned preventive maintenance system designed by a trusted and respected contractor is very important in ensuring your workplace ventilation is effective.
Contact Robinsons Facilities Services today to discuss your ventilation requirements.
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