Ensuring effective ventilation in your workplace is an important way to help control the spread of COVID-19, says Sara Lovell, a occupational hygiene consultant. But it's sometimes overlooked. "We know that COVID-19 is an airborne, transmissible virus," she explains, "so better air quality and air flow can reduce the risk of the virus spreading in the workplace."
Sara recommends adding improved ventilation to your arsenal of COVID-19 control measures to better protect your workplace and to ensure you are meeting your legal requirements. "Employers are required under the Occupational Health & Safety Act to do everything reasonable to protect workers. I think improved ventilation is a reasonable control."
If you're worried about incurring capital costs, don't be. "This doesn't always have to be an expensive undertaking, and it can make a world of difference," says Sara.
Here are 10 easy and inexpensive options for improving air quality in your workplace, based on guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention () and Public Health Ontario, with comments from Sara.
Consult with your certified contractor on implementing the first six modifications. If you are a tenant, contact your landlord with the same requests.
"When used in conjunction with physical distancing, good personal hygiene, mask wearing, sanitizing and other control measures in your COVID-19 safety plan, better filtration and cleaner air can help reduce the potential for airborne transmission," concludes Sara.
Use this Ventilation Checklist (COVID-19) from the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers () as a guide.
Read about how to fulfil your obligations as an employer in 8 ways for employers to take every reasonable precaution during a pandemic (article)
* Focus on Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Systems in Buildings and COVID-19, Public Health Ontario, https://www.publichealthontario.ca/-/media/documents/ncov/ipac/2020/09/covid-19-hvac-systems-in-buildings.pdf?la=en
The information in this article is accurate as of its publication date.