By Toby Graham, KPA
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) released new COVID-19 guidance on ventilation in the workplace. Employers should discuss options for optimizing building ventilation with an HVAC professional. Steps that can be taken include:
- Encourage workers to stay home if they are sick.
- 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.
Remember, airflow is not a complete virus mitigation strategy. Make sure employees wash hands frequently, maintain social distancing, and disinfect shared surfaces regularly in addition to following other guidelines from local health authorities.
Contact a member of the Murray Risk Control Team at 717.397.9600 for additional assistance on resources and tools for prevention, including materials contained in the Succeed / KPA risk management platform.
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