As more companies have their workforce return to the office, employers and employees alike want assurances that their working environment is clean and safe. SARS-CoV-2 viral particles spread between people more readily indoors than outdoors. When indoors, ventilation mitigation strategies can help reduce viral particle concentration.
“Reoccupying a building during the COVID-19 pandemic should not, in most cases, require new building ventilation systems,” says guidance from NIOSH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “However, ventilation system upgrades or improvements can increase the delivery of clean air and dilute potential contaminants.”
At the request of several health organizations, NIOSH has addressed ventilation Frequently Asked Questions and updated some existing FAQ answers on:
- carbon dioxide (CO2) monitoring
- technologies that claim to be effective for reducing the risk of virus exposure, and
- info and calculations for choosing portable High Energy Particulate Air (HEPA) cleaners
Following is a list of ventilation interventions that can help reduce the concentration of virus particles in the air. These ventilation interventions can reduce the risk of exposure to the virus and reduce the spread of disease, but they will not eliminate risk completely.
- Increase the introduction of outdoor air
- Use fans to increase the effectiveness of open windows
- Ensure ventilation systems operate properly and provide acceptable indoor air quality for the current occupancy level for each space
- Rebalance or adjust HVAC systems to increase total airflow to occupied spaces when possible
- Turn off any demand-controlled ventilation (DCV) controls that reduce air supply based on occupancy or temperature during occupied hours and operate fans and ventilation continuously even when heating/cooling is not required
- Improve central air filtration
- Inspect and maintain exhaust ventilation systems
- Consider portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) fan/filtration systems to enhance air cleaning
For more detailed information on these HVAC modifications, read the Ventilation in Buildings article written by the CDC.
Implementing multiple tools and solutions, including the continued practices of workplace masking, distancing and hand washing along with HVAC solutions, is consistent with both NIOSH’s the CDC’s layered approach to mitigating COVID-19 risk and will increase overall effectiveness of ventilation interventions.
Do you need help preparing your company return to work in person – including employer/employee COVID-19 policies, COVID-19 recordkeeping rules, workplace safety audits – contact Thrival Company, we’d love to help.