Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer workplaces and public settings

Guidance for businesses and workplaces on reducing the risk of COVID-19 and supporting staff and customers.

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The provision of fresh air into indoor environments is essential to preventing the spread of COVID-19. Further to this, employers must, by law, ensure an adequate supply of fresh air in the workplace.

To improve the supply of fresh air in your workplace and reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • regularly monitor the air quality within enclosed environments – you may wish to use Non Dispersive Infra-Red (NDIR) carbon dioxide monitors to identify the carbon dioxide levels to help decide if ventilation is poor. For further information, please see the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance.
  • let in as much fresh air as possible – open windows, doors (excluding fire doors), and vents
  • avoid using ventilation systems which only recycle used air. Make sure that fresh air is introduced to all spaces
  • be aware of the relevant occupancy level – more people together means more aerosol particles, and needs more ventilation
  • air rooms between users or regularly throughout the day
  • where practical, spaces where there is potential for long duration exposure over several hours within the same group (e.g. offices) should ensure occupants have regular breaks, ideally with purge ventilation/airing of the room, to reduce the potential for viral exposure
  • if ventilation makes it feel cold - consider relaxing uniform or dress code requirements, so employees can continue to work comfortably
  • understand your building’s ventilation system – do not adjust mechanical settings without expert advice. It is important to make sure that ventilation systems and/or extractor fans are used correctly
  • if you work in an environment with a complex ventilation system, for example supplying multiple floors and rooms, or old buildings, there is more guidance from the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE)

The Health and Safety Executive has produced useful guidance on ventilation in workplaces. This includes useful examples of practical steps which can be taken to improve ventilation in different types of workplace settings.

Appropriate risk assessments should be carried out for each specific indoor environment. Employers can access general advice and guidance on risk assessment, prepared by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). In support of this, The British Occupational Hygiene Society created a risk matrix for employers.



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