Keeping Workspaces Safe in a Post-Covid World
COVID-19 has forced many businesses to re-evaluate what ‘normal’ working looks like for their employees. Many companies are asking their employees to work from home if they are able, this is not an option for a large number of companies.
As lockdown eases, businesses must look to new ways of working which are safe for both employees and customers. CIBSE has recently published ‘Emerging From Lockdown’ a series of 4 documents providing information and advice on how businesses should safely re-occupy buildings. CIBSE has made it crystal clear that ventilation is to play a big part in making workplaces safe post-COVID-19.
The second document in the series focusses on ventilation and explains why consistent ventilation is so important to maintaining healthy indoor air. The document provides information on how ventilation can help keep workplaces safe, and on a higher level, it attempts to provide general advice to building owners/managers on what ventilation is and how it works.
The CIBSE document provides advice in the form of key actions which can help mitigate any health risks in the workplace. Some of these key actions include:
- Understand your ventilation system
The subject of ventilation may not have been an important one to building owners in the past, leaving it mostly to maintenance contractors; however, it is clear that in a post-COVID-19 world a basic understanding of ventilation is required for all building owners/managers so that they can ensure their building has adequate ventilation. The CIBSE guide provides a detailed look into all the ventilation types, from natural to mechanical, laid out in a way to help building managers understand their systems better.
- Run your ventilation at a higher flow rate
Ventilation units currently installed in commercial spaces should be commissioned to the requirements of the space. However, CIBSE is suggesting that ventilation rates should be increased beyond this. Higher airflow rates will ensure that pollutant-laden air is removed quickly from the building, whilst fresh air is supplied to replace the extracted air.
- Avoid recirculation/transfer from one room to another
Many ventilation units provide recirculation when in use. They will extract air from the space and condition it before returning it. The risk of reintroducing viruses back into the space using this technology is too high – because of this, CIBSE advises against recirculation. An alternative to recirculation may be heat recovery. Rather than air being reused, the heat is instead – this may provide a safer way to reuse potentially lost energy.
CIBSE’s guide is comprehensive and gives a top-level, as well as a detailed look at what workplace ventilation should look like as lockdown eases.
Written July 2020