Here’s some useful information that might help.
As many people have started going back to work, the greatest danger is complacency with hygiene, social distancing and the worst situation, someone knowing they have symptoms entering the workplace facing the reality of not being able to afford not to work.
By now, if you have a business there should be a Risk Assessment in place to help control the spread of COVID 19, this should be in-line with the Government’s guidelines.
Tips to reduce the COVID 19 risk in the workplace.
The aim of the risk assessment is to mitigate the risk as far as possible, starting with a hierarchy of control measures as with any Health and Safety Risk Assessment. Unfortunately we can’t change the hazard at the moment, or substitute it, so we have to look at control measures.
The first thing to consider is, can you and your staff work from home? If so do so, this is what is recommended. If it is not possible then consider who needs to be at work, in the office and how they can social distance. Be mindful of those within your organisation who maybe at higher risk, due to age, gender, underlying health conditions and ethnicity. These people might not necessarily be shielding, but need additional protection.
Consider how to monitor the health of staff and prevent them from bringing the virus into the workplace. Consider putting in place strict health surveillance, ask everyone to monitor their temperatures prior to leaving
home, then again when they enter the workplace and possibly at the end of the day. Hand sanitisation is key to prevent transfer across surfaces and to faces. This must be done when moving from one space to another, in the way you do when you visit hospital.
Remember we need staff to be honest about their health, so there must be no penalty or discrimination against them for following the Governments recommendation to stay away for 14days. Everyone must be responsible for ensuring that their workspace is a safe zone and be vigilant, reminding each other to sanitise hands regularly.
Staff using public transport to come to work must wear a face mask and use hand sanitiser when leaving the transport.
Staff should be adhering to the Governments guidance with regards to social distancing outside of the workplace to prevent the spread of the virus.
The greatest risk of transfer is from physical contact so how can the risk be managed effectively. This is most likely to happen at common areas like the kitchen, toilets, photocopier, printer, door handles, push plates, locks etc. Stop hot desking and sharing keyboards and mice. Sanitising hands before and after touching these items is key to stop the transfer from one area to another.
Sanitise the workstation after using if there is a risk of someone else using it.
Wash hands prior to eating food, don’t put food on un-sanitised surfaces and don’t eat where there are a number of people present. Don’t share cutlery and crockery, make sure they are washed up, dried and put away after using.
More Fresh Air
Increase the level of ventilation in the office, if possible to provide more fresh air and extraction this will reduce and dilute the airborne particles. Note that when the stale air is extracted the extract system is operating under a negative pressure so that once the air is pulled into the duct it will remain moving to atmosphere and can’t then enter another room on route to atmosphere. The fresh air should enter at a slightly higher air volume to create a positive pressure in the space therefore forcing the stale air to take the quickest route to atmosphere i.e. via the extract.
Air conditioning can be used when the above is satisfied as the risk has been mitigated as far as possible. Air conditioning, split-systems generally recirculate the air within the room. So in order to become infected the virus will already be present in the workspace and will have already been transferred on surfaces such as door handles, push-plates, etc. Increased transference of any virus by these air conditioning has not been proven and it’s an easy conclusion to jump to.
To clarify, how the air passes through an indoor unit.
The indoor units firstly have a filter to remove particles, some have dust/pollen filters and carbon filters integrated into them as well, the air then has to pass through the coil which is wet with condensate during the cooling process causing smaller particle to stick to the coil fins and run off into the drain tray. The clean air then has to pass through the fan. This depends on the type of indoor unit, the fan and coil or could be vice versa. The waste condensate fluid is immediately pumped, or gravity drained away to the building’s foul water drainage system.
There are simple hygiene tips to consider to provide peace-of-mind e.g. it is worth cleaning the filters and having the indoor unit coil and drain sanitised with disinfectant to ensure that the units are as clean as possible so they can be effective. If the systems haven’t been used for over ten days due to closure, then it is probably safe to say that any virus would have died, but servicing and hygiene should be the norm so the systems operate as efficiently as possible.
If you have any questions regarding the information provided please contact Air Improve through the contact us page and we will be sure to come back to you.