Respiratory infections including Coronavirus (COVID-19): ventilation in the workplace

Guidance for employers on improving ventilation and the the supply of fresh air into the workplace.


Good ventilation is important in controlling the spread of respiratory infections including COVID-19 indoors.

This guidance is for employers. It sets out actions that can be taken to improve ventilation and the supply of fresh air in the workplace. 

Employers must, by law, ensure an adequate supply of fresh air in the workplace.

It is important that while following this guidance, your building continues to comply with existing health and safety, fire safety and building regulations, as well as the legal requirement to maintain a reasonable temperature in the workplace.

Ways to improve ventilation

There are a number of ways to improve the supply of fresh air in your workplace to reduce transmission of respiratory infections including COVID-19. Organisations should take account of the measures that are most appropriate for their specific setting:

  • 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 maintained and used correctly
  • regularly monitor the air quality within enclosed environments – you may wish to use Non Dispersive Infra-Red (NDIR) carbon dioxide monitors to indicate the carbon dioxide levels to help identify areas which may have poor ventilation
  • let fresh, clean air into your building – open windows, doors (excluding fire doors), and vents when you can. This will help to reduce any infectious particles and reduce the risk of infections
  • avoid relying upon ventilation systems which only recycle used air. Make sure that fresh air is introduced to all spaces
  • be aware of the occupancy level – more people together, for extended periods of time, means more ventilation is required
  • air out rooms between users or regularly throughout the day
  • if ventilation makes it feel cold– consider relaxing dress codes, so employees can continue to work comfortably
  • to aid occupant comfort, consider rearranging room lay out so that workstations are in the ventilated space but out of the direct line of any drafts created
  • use indoor fans in combination with open doors or windows to further increase air movement
  • in some circumstances, the use of air cleaning devices may be beneficial in improving air quality - read more on air cleaning technologies
  • 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)



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