A well-ventilated workplace is essential to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection because the virus that causes it, SARS-CoV-2, is primarily an airborne virus. One should think of the “80:20 Rule” for ease of re-setting one’s mind after being told for a year that surfaces are the issue for transmission. The WHO, CDC and majority of scientific community say that was wrong, it’s an airborne disease. Arbitrarily, for 80:20 – spend 80% of your efforts in improving ventilation and air purification and 20% on cleaning surfaces (See below).
SARS-CoV-2 viral particles are created when an infected person exhales, talks, coughs, sneezes, sings are spread between people more readily indoors. Still, ventilation mitigation strategies can help reduce viral particle concentration, also known as viral load. The lower the concentration, the less likely viral particles can be inhaled into the lungs (potentially lowering the inhaled dose); contact eyes, nose, and mouth; or fall out of the air to accumulate on surfaces. Protective ventilation practices and interventions with air cleaning can reduce the airborne concentrations and reduce the overall viral risk to occupants.
We have been told, “we have to learn to live with the virus”. We can do much better than this! With the correct Engineering & Technology interventions, we can return to a new normal, and in many aspects perhaps even better than pre-Covid. If we have clean air to breathe, we are confident, healthier, more mindful, and our cognitive capacity is much higher. With improved interior air quality and infection suppression controls, it is not just about Covid delta prevention and control; we are protecting better from the risk of other variants, other pathogenic spores, bacteria and viruses. We are building a sustainable long-term protection from pathogens, we are creating Pandemic Resilience.
On a Compliance level, ventilation in the workplace should be assessed and improved alongside other measures to reduce the risk of coronavirus exposure. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and the Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1993 require employers to ensure that there is an adequate supply of fresh air in enclosed workplaces. The air must also be clean, uncontaminated, and unable to cause harm.
The Law and its associated Regulations, in the pandemic era, give the majority of the conventional Mechanical Ventilation and HVAC systems within the Built Environment a difficult compliance challenge because most of these ventilation systems recirculate part or most of the air extracted from a room back in to that and other interior spaces. In other words, with adequate ventilation, one can decontaminate a space and remove that air quickly to the outside, but with any form of the recirculated air system, one is recirculating and re-distributing potentially, air that is contaminated with invisible, infected particulate. In other words, spreading infection risk further!
In order to ensure compliance with the Workplace Regulations, Employers and those in control of premises need to assess ventilation in the workplace by:
a. Assessing the risk of transmission
b. Identifying poorly ventilated areas
c. Decide what steps need to be taken to improve ventilation for compliance.
d. Implementing those steps and monitoring
The regulations and guidance confirm the need for “adequate ventilation” but are not specific about what that exactly means. Many regulators and advisory institutions around the world indicate that adequate ventilation is:- the greater of 10 litres/person/second or 6 Air Changes per Hour (6ACH) of clean, uncontaminated air as the minimum but this needs to be greater if the environmental conditions, occupancy or risks dictate otherwise.
These are all the areas where PP-L Biosafety can help you to protect your people, visitors and business operations to levels exceeding compliance, almost back to being more normal, and for the long-term.
Our Services and Products create solutions that will give you an advantage; they can prevent or control the risk from all common pathogens, including coronavirus and ready your people and business operations for whatever may come in the future.