How to improve ventilation and encourage air flow from outside to help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 in the workplace.
There is new guidance on building ventilation for workplaces to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. This guidance can be incorporated into a business’ COVIDSafe Plan
COVID-19 is airborne. It is primarily spread between people breathing in very small virus-containing droplets or aerosols.
The risk of aerosol transmission is higher if someone with COVID-19 is in a poorly ventilated space. This is because fine aerosol spray from an infected person can remain circulating, linger and spread to other people in a space more easily.
The risk of transmission is highest where there is an overlap of the ‘Three C’s’:
- Crowded places
- Close-contact settings (such as face-to-face conversations)
- Confined or enclosed spaces.
Types of ventilation and how they can be improved
1. Natural ventilation
Natural ventilation forces air movement through and around an occupied space.
Opening windows and leaving doors open in hallways and corridors allows fresh air into a room. This helps dilute indoor air and remove particles suspended in the air (like aerosolised COVID-19 droplets or viral particles).
2. Mechanical ventilation
Using mechanical equipment increases airflow by replacing or diluting indoor air with outside air. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems or air conditioning units filter air to maintain air quality.
This can be improved by:
- maximising the amount of outside air into a space by disabling any control systems that vary the amount of fresh air based on occupancy
- changing the settings to increase the proportion of outdoor air recirculating in a space
- installing a higher-grade filter within the air handling unit.
3. Augmented ventilation
Portable filtration units catch particles in a filter. This increases the clean air delivery rate and reduces the concentration of viral particles in the air.
This can be achieved by:
- adding a portable fan filter unit (PFFU) to areas where air circulation is the lowest, such as corners of rooms, the centre of large rooms, and away from windows, doors, or extract grilles
- using ceiling fans or wall-mounted air-conditioning units to help distribute filtered air around a space.
Small Business Ventilation Guide
The Small Business Ventilation Guide provides simple tips to help businesses and workplaces improve ventilation and reduce COVID-19 transmission.