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Ventilation key principle to ensure safety in return to work strategy

Vent-Axia has offered businesses advice on all ventilation issues to help them comply with the Government's return to work strategy published last week.

'Keep Indoor Places Well Ventilated'– This is one of the key principles cited in the UK Government’s COVID-19 return to work strategy published on May 11.

The strategy also states‘Evidence suggests that the virus is less likely to be passed on in well-ventilated buildings and outdoors’and advises to ‘Use external extractor fans to keep spaces well ventilated and make sure that ventilation systems are set to maximise the fresh air flow rate’.

This guidance is designed to ensure time spent in your workplace is as safe as possible and is a clear demonstration of how vital effective ventilation is.

Vent-Axia has welcomed this guidance since the company has seen first-hand how ventilation has helped fight the virus. The leading British ventilation manufacturer has helped in the national response against COVID-19 by supplying ventilation to a number of field hospitals, including the NHS Nightingale Hospital in London.

This latest guidance echoes the statement by Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, Deputy Chief Medical Officer at Government’s COVID-19 press briefing on 29 April 2020 where he said, “There is a definite truism across all of the science literature, that ventilation is a most critical part of reducing transmission from respiratory viruses.”

For businesses the Government has also issued sector specific guidance for working safely during COVID-19. All types of businesses can use these guidelines to make sure their premises are ‘COVID-19 secure’.

To meet their duty of care, employers need to reduce workplace risk to the lowest reasonably practical level by taking preventive measures. The guidance therefore lists steps to take to assess and manage the risk of COVID-19 in the workplace.

Once companies have complied with the guidance, they can display a notice to confirm their business is COVID-19 secure. Ventilation plays a critical part in managing transmission risk and so is a vital consideration during this process, with the document stating that businesses should check whether a ventilation system needs to be serviced or adjusted before reopening.

“At Vent-Axia we are here if businesses need advice on ventilation. A raft of global scientific evidence has confirmed aerosol transmission, making it a higher risk to be inside a building than outside. As the lockdown begins to ease with more people going back to work businesses need to prepare by ensuring their ventilation system is working. To lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission inside a building or home it is vital to increase airflow and ventilate effectively. Now is the time to check ventilation to ensure there is enough airflow to dilute the virus in the air and improve indoor air quality. Ventilating for longer and opting for ventilation with higher airflow volumes will help reduce the risk,” said Jenny Smith, head of marketing at Vent-Axia.

The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) has recently issued two documents to help building managers/owners and operators for preparing for an ease in lockdown. The first guide ‘CIBSECOVID-19 Emerging from Lockdown: Safely Re-occupying Buildings’ advises high levels of ventilation in all occupied areas of the building. “To minimise the risk of airborne transmission it is important to maintain higher ventilation rates and to consider increasing ventilation rates in toilets and circulation spaces such as stairwells.”

While CIBSE’s second document ‘CIBSECOVID-19 Ventilation Guidance’gives detailed guidance for building managers/operators to minimise the risks of airborne transmission of COVID-19. Here the overarching advice is to increase the air supply and exhaust ventilation, supplying as much outside air as is reasonably possible to dilute and remove the virus as much as possible.

More detailed advice includes: extending the operation times of supply and extract mechanical ventilation systems; start ventilation at nominal speed at least two hours before the building usage time and switch to lower speed two hours after the building usage time; in demand-controlled ventilation systems changing the CO2 setpoint to lower to maintain operation at nominal speed; and to keep ventilation on 24/7 with lower ventilation rates when people are absent. CIBSE also directs readers to refer to manufacturer’s guidance for help.

Vent-Axia is committed to improving indoor air quality and public health and has helped in the national response against COVID-19. The company has already supplied ventilation to a wide-range of essential projects and now is available to support businesses as they prepare to reopen and help dilute the COVID-19 virus inside homes and buildings.

For commercial buildings Vent-Axia has a number of ventilation options for businesses keen to improve their ventilation and indoor air quality from its Sentinel Totus² Demand Energy Recovery Ventilation system (D-ERV) to its ultra slim and energy efficient Slimpak EC single in-line box fan, its T-Series commercial fan and its EKF kitchen box fan.

18 May 2020


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