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24th June 2020 - back to news index

A Breath of Fresh Air for your Returning Staff

As countries come out of lockdown, the return to work needs to have employee health as a priority. Many people will have adapted to working from home and will want to continue but many others have to be physically present and any workplace which has been unoccupied for months will present its own specific challenges.

Recent guidance issued by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) can be adapted to workplaces around the world. These guidelines include "purge-ventilating" for two hours before and after using the building and keeping minimal, "trickle" ventilation working overnight. While there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted through ventilation systems, we know that a number of other infections can. A thorough examination of your Air-Conditioning system before staff return is recommended, with routine cleaning and maintenance brought forward if it will be due within a few weeks.

As Alan Macklin, Technical Director of Elta Group and Chairman of the Fan Manufacturer's Association (FMA) has pointed out, the focus on increasing energy efficiency, though necessary and valuable, has "all-too-often been at the expense of both building and occupant health, with increasingly airtight structures leading to a reduction in indoor air quality (IAQ)".

Dry indoor air can be a factor in a range of respiratory and skin complaints and can aid transmission of some infectious diseases. Meanwhile, excessive humidity can also lead to health problems. For this reason, assessing the optimum humidity level in any workplace and ensuring that it remains constant can help avoid stress for employees and the problems caused by staff needing sick leave. Staff returning to work after all the stress of COVID-19 and lockdown deserve to stay healthy, so they can get on with their work and return to normal.

Research has yet to give us definite information about any possible relationship between COVID-19 and air quality, but we do know that our general health is improved by breathing clean air. Following guidelines about effective use of ventilation systems is as important as ensuring staff comply with new rules about hygiene and interpersonal space.

If you need any advice on preparing your air-conditioning systems before you staff return to work, please get in touch.

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