Employers preparing to welcome staff back must prioritize safety beyond COVID-proofing with sanitizers, masks, distancing measures
As an employer you will be getting ready to welcome your staff back into the workplace. Making buildings COVID-safe may been a priority when planning for the much-awaited return of staff, but your responsibility for their safety and security goes far beyond the provision of sanitiser, masks and distanced workstations.
Coronavirus has focussed attention on the air which surrounds us. The truth, however, is that viruses are just one of a range of pollutants which can recirculate within the office and, whilst the others may not be quite so headline-grabbing, they can be just as lethal.
Here are just a few facts about air quality or, as we would rather call it…
Let’s get the negatives out of the way first:
• According to Public Health England, air pollution causes between 24,000 and 36,000 deaths per year
• Air pollution is the 4th biggest killer after Cancer, Obesity and Heart Disease
• Government estimates put the annual cost of health impacts between £8 billion and £20 billion
• The World Health Organisation identify a number of conditions which are associated with poor quality air, including asthma, lung cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease
• Indoor pollutants include Particulate Matter, Carbon Monoxide, Carbon Dioxide, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), Mould, Bacteria, Viruses and even simply excess humidity
The quality of indoor air is often many times worse than that of outdoor spaces and yet we have much more control over its supply. The good news, of course, is that this means we can do something about it (which is just as well since we are estimated to spend around 90% of our day inside!).
There is workplace legislation which sets out an employer’s responsibility relating to ventilation within their buildings and, thankfully, there is also guidance available from the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) in their guidance document BESA TR19®.
The key to providing safe air
Improving indoor air quality involves two main tasks: reducing the indoor polluters at their source wherever possible and ensuring good, clean ventilation.
When it comes to ventilation, the system must be:
• Fit for purpose
• Well maintained
• Regularly inspected
• Kept clean of any physical or microbiological contamination
As well as our wide range of ductwork and ventilation cleaning services, we now offer a unique Complete Ventilation Compliance (CVC) Package. This bespoke solution ensures that you are fully legally compliant (and that you remain so throughout the year) and includes an in-depth audit and survey to prove the cleanliness and safety of your entire system.
For more details, or to find additional help to meet your clean air obligations, visit System Hygienics.