safework australia guidance for: improving ventilation in buildings to help reduce the spread of covid-19
SafeWork Australia Guidance for: Improving ventilation in buildings to help reduce the spread of COVID-19
As we gain more knowledge on how to reduce the transmission risk of COVID-19, SafeWork Australia have issued some guidance and advice on what businesses, including offices, waiting rooms, schools, colleges, universities, retail spaces and hospitality venues can implement as part of their Covid-Safe plan and encourage employees back into the workplace.
One of the important indicators can be checking levels of CO2 in a room using a CO2 monitor. Monitoring levels of CO2 helps employers to understand the level of risk of transmission of the virus and therefore initiating an action to decrease the risk, including increased ventilation practices.
Unlike most basic CO2 monitors, which just monitor levels of CO2, our solution provides indications and a sound alarm based on an algorithm of multiple factors including detectable CO2 levels, room temperature, and humidity, providing you with a more accurate assessment of risk.
The CO2 monitor we offer comes with three pre-programmed indoor activity settings; low, medium, and high activity and is recommended for coverage of 800-1000 square feet.
Advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) says improved ventilation may limit the spread of certain respiratory diseases, such as COVID-19 in indoor environments. Understanding and controlling building ventilation can help improve indoor air quality and in combination with other reasonably practicable control measures, improving indoor ventilation can be used to minimise the risks of COVID-19.
As an employer, you have a duty under the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws to eliminate, or if that is not reasonably practicable, minimise the risks of COVID-19 in the workplace, so far as is reasonably practicable. Employers also have a duty to consult workers regarding COVID-19 risks and how these risks are to be managed.
Monitoring and Checking Effectiveness
Although carbon dioxide (CO2) levels are not a direct measure of possible exposure to the COVID-19 virus, checking levels using a CO2 monitor may help identify poorly ventilated areas. However, be reminded that CO2 levels will depend on the occupancy density and do not measure the effectiveness of other infection prevention and control measures put in place.
According to the UK Health and Safety Executive, a consistent indoor air concentration of less than 800 parts per million (ppm) CO2 is likely to indicate that a space is well ventilated.
When CO2 concentration measurements average between 800-1500ppm over the occupied period this is an indicator to take action to improve indoor ventilation. An average of 1500ppm CO2 concentration over the occupied period in a space is likely an indicator of poor ventilation. You should particularly take action to improve ventilation where CO2 readings are consistently higher than 1500ppm. However, where there is continuous talking or singing, or high levels of physical activity (such as dancing, playing sport or exercising), a higher level of ventilation may be required to keep CO2 levels below 800ppm, given the higher risks of transmission.
Measurements of CO2 should be taken at different times with different occupancies to get a better indication of how the ventilation system is working under different conditions. There are different types of CO2 monitors available and you should consult a ventilation engineer or occupational hygienist about which type is best for your circumstances.
The HTRAM (Honeywell Transmission Risk Air Monitor) is a cost effective, small and portable solution for CO2 monitoring. The monitor has an easy-to-understand traffic light system for when levels of CO2 increase into the risk areas. The simple monitor also uses a guided formula by size of room, number of people in that room, breathing rate and duration to calculate a relevant elevation in harmful CO2 levels.
Please just get in contact with us to find out more.