Coronavirus (COVID-19): ventilation in the workplace
Guidance for employers on improving ventilation and the the supply of fresh air into the workplace.
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Supporting staff to understand the importance of ventilation
The effectiveness of ventilation in many environments is strongly influenced by user behaviour and an understanding of what measures are introduced.
Clear instructions to building users is required on how ventilation systems should be used, particularly throughout winter. There is an increased risk of user interference with systems, which could affect the measures taken to improve ventilation in buildings. This can be complex due to the variety of ventilation systems available, and as such employers should consult manufacturers’ instructions and take advice from engineers with expertise in such equipment, as required.
Raising awareness of the importance of ventilation in helping to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 will be key in ensuring that guidance is followed.
Environmental factors (such as humidity and sources of heat) combine with personal factors (such as the clothing a worker is wearing and how physically demanding their work is) to influence what is known as thermal comfort.
HSE suggest that for settings where the activity is mainly sedentary, for example offices, the temperature should normally be at least 16 °C. If work involves physical effort it should be at least 13 °C (unless other laws require lower temperatures).
During winter months, when increased ventilation of premises may affect thermal comfort, employers may wish to consider relaxation of dress code requirements. This is likely to affect thermal comfort in some situations.
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