The law is clear – employers must ensure that there’s an adequate supply of fresh air in enclosed areas of the workplaces for which they are responsible. Fresh air is generally maximised either by natural or mechanical ventilation, or through a combination of the two.
Providing fresh air via appropriate ventilation has, of course, always been important to the health and wellbeing of building occupants but it is even more critical since the onset of COVID-19.
How does HVAC help protect occupants from Covid 19?
It is, after all, now widely recognised that COVID-19 transmission commonly occurs in enclosed spaces. It is also true that effectively maintained HVAC systems play a vital role in decreasing potential airborne transmission of the virus.
People are contemplating the prospect of a return to work as the positive impact of the vaccination programme and lockdown measures begin to emerge.
However, it seems likely that COVID-19 will be with us for a long time to come, even after the pandemic, albeit in a less aggressive form.
Respected medical journal The BMJ is just one of many respected sources that have confirmed this. It said in an article in February: “The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus [COVID-19] will not be eradicated but will become endemic, continuing to circulate in pockets of the global population for years to come and causing outbreaks in regions where it had been eliminated, scientists working in the field believe.”
Meanwhile, a survey in multi-disciplinary science journal Nature has revealed that almost 90% of scientists expect the virus that causes COVID-19 to become endemic (https://go.nature.com/39pQOzv).
That is why it remains a pressing concern to consider all the issues associated with protecting people from the risks posed by airborne transmission of pathogens.
HSE guidance on ventilation and air conditioning
Thankfully, help is at hand. The Health and Safety Executive has published some useful guidance in the form of a recently updated publication called ‘Ventilation and air conditioning during the coronavirus pandemic’ (https://bit.ly/3sDfoEs).
As well outlining why ventilation is important, this assesses the risks associated with aerosol transmission of the virus. It then goes on to identify poorly ventilated areas and explains how to improve natural and mechanical ventilation as well as balancing ventilation with keeping warm. Finally, it investigates air cleaning and filtration units and ventilation in vehicles.
CIBSE also offers a wealth of information about how to tackle the issues around COVID-19 and emerging safely from the lockdown (https://bit.ly/3clPjnP).
But advice from government agencies and professional engineering associations is not enough on its own. It is also important to employ experts when installing, refurbishing or maintaining HVAC systems to ensure effective, reliable operation and peace of mind.
Expert ventilation services
ECEX, for example, offers a range of AHU and ventilation services, designed to ensure air handling units and associated HVAC equipment is efficient, reliable and safe.
From AHU refurbishment and repair to extend usable life and enhanced operational efficiency, to UV-C disinfection, which removes bacteria, viruses and other pathogens from internal components, ECEX can provide a total solution to keep HVAC equipment working to its optimum, while contributing to improved indoor air quality.
Click here for more information.