The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently published an Alert designed to provide businesses with recommendations on how best to ensure their office and work areas receive proper ventilation and, thereby, help reduce the spread of coronavirus among their employees and visitors. OSHA’s tips include the following:
- Ensure all HVAC systems are fully functional, especially those shut down or operating at reduced capacity during the pandemic.
- Remove or redirect personal fans to prevent blowing air from one worker to another.
- Use HVAC system filters with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating of 13 or higher, where feasible.
- Increase the HVAC system’s outdoor air intake. Open windows or other sources of fresh air where possible.
- Be sure exhaust air is not pulled back into the building from HVAC air intakes or open windows.
- Consider using portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) fan/filtration systems to increase clean air, especially in higher-risk areas.
- When changing filters, wear appropriate personal protective equipment. ASHRAE recommends N95 respirators, eye protection (safety glasses, goggles, or face shields), and disposable gloves.
- Make sure exhaust fans in restrooms are fully functional, operating at maximum capacity, and are set to remain on.
- Encourage workers to report any safety and health concerns.
Maintaining adequate ventilation throughout the work environment can help to maintain a safe and healthy workplace. Employers should contact their heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) professional to consider steps to optimize ventilation of their office space.