Updated advice on ventilation and air conditioning

Greg Davies

Greg Davies
Director of Market Development, Assurity Consulting
7th December 2020

As of Thursday 3rd December 2020, the reviewed information has been expanded and updated, and covers;

  • Why ventilation is important;
  • Balancing ventilation with keeping people warm;
  • Identifying poorly ventilated areas;
  • How to improve ventilation;
  • Natural ventilation;
  • Mechanical ventilation (including air conditioning);
  • Fans and air cleaning units; and
  • Ventilation in vehicles.

You can find more information here.

While much of the advice remains consistent with the HSE’s previous advice, and have we have seen increasing questions about local air cleaning units, the section on “Fans and air cleaning units” does include the following:

“Local air cleaning and filtration units can be used to reduce airborne transmission where it isn’t possible to maintain adequate ventilation. Filtration systems, high-efficiency filters and ultraviolet-based devices are the most suitable types to use. They should be the correct size for the area they are being used in.”

The key aspect here is “where it isn’t possible to maintain adequate ventilation”. Having been collating our, now 1,000’s of, air quality tests since March 2020, the information is overwhelmingly indicating, with a few small changes/modifications to operation and run time air quality (microbiological, particulate (dusts) and gas (Carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide) very good, if not excellent results at our customer sites.

In such circumstances the need for any additional equipment to help manage air quality is negligible in my opinion. Accepting these are well run, managed and maintained buildings, and for the most part mechanically ventilated, I do appreciate not all employers and duty holders will be in this situation. For those considering such devices, it is about weighing up the benefit of installing and maintaining these in the context of the area(s) to be covered and your broader COVID-19 risk management (e.g. how effective are you existing controls?).