A breath of fresh air?

Hands, face, space, fresh air. We’re probably all aware that a new phrase has appeared at the end of the familiar Government mantra, so what’s the fresh air” bit all about? It’s not about getting out into the countryside, although certainly that’s an excellent idea and one we’d wholeheartedly recommend!

The fresh air of the Government’s new slogan refers to making sure we have adequate ventilation indoors.  So where we might be mixing with anyone we don’t live with, which of course includes the workplace. This has been an integral part of the workplace guidance since the early days, but recent additions to the guidance notes have increased the detail given on this important topic. Extra advice is also now available in the Covid19 area of the HSE website.

The basic guidance (to make sure that there is an adequate supply of fresh air in enclosed workplace areas) has not changed. It can be as simple as opening a window or as complex as making sure your building control systems are set according to the latest guidance. The principle is that fresh air dilutes any virus particles that might be in the air, and reduces the risk of transmission of the virus via airborne aerosol droplets. 

Identifying any indoor areas that are poorly ventilated forms part of the risk assessment that should be carried out to ensure a premises is Covid19 secure. HSE sets out some simple steps to identify any such areas and prioritise them for action. This ranges from carrying out a visual check to find areas with no obvious means of ventilation, to carrying out measurements of carbon dioxide, which is present in exhaled air. 

There are then a number of questions to consider in order to assess whether your fresh air provision is adequate or not: how many people use the area, how large is it, what is it used for, what natural and mechanical ventilation exists there now and how does it bring in fresh air? Answering these questions should help you to come to a conclusion about the adequacy of your fresh air provision.

Of course, fresh air is only one aspect of control against Covid19 and it is vital not to forget the others; hand hygiene, cleaning and social distancing, for example, all help to guard against the spread of coronavirus and must not be neglected. 

If you need help to revise or review your Covid19 risk assessment, or just want assurance that you are already taking the right actions, SML can assist, contact us today.

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