How proper ventilation can help fight the risk of Covid-19 transmission in the workplace

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With Sydney in the midst of a worsening Covid-19 outbreak, it has never been more essential that heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are properly maintained. Optimising ventilation in indoor workplaces is one weapon being used to fight the risk of coronavirus transmission. So how confident are you that your building’s ventilation is keeping you safe?

Why is ventilation so important?

Ventilation is the process of removing stale air inside and replacing it with clean, fresh air. It’s like opening the windows of your home on a nice day to let in some fresh air to get rid of the stale air inside.

In the workplace, ventilation achieves the same goal as opening the windows – it improves the indoor air quality by removing dust, allergens and other airborne irritants. That is why it is regarded as one of the most important jobs of a HVAC system because without it, we would be left breathing a whole lot of potentially harmful contaminants.

Good ventilation will also act to flush out viruses from the indoor air by using fresh outside air to remove infectious particles. But for ventilation to best reduce the spread of virus, a HVAC system requires air conditioning maintenance. That means filters and ducts should be regularly cleaned and maintained.

There is another benefit of good ventilation: the better the air quality, the healthier the workplace environment which means healthier, more productive employees.

Why ventilation should be front of mind during the Covid-19 pandemic

The risk of transmission of Covid-19 is more common in indoor settings where it is harder to physically distance but the threat is reduced when that indoor space is well ventilated.

Safe Work Australia has released guidelines for workplaces to improve ventilation in a bid to reduce the risk of exposure of Covid-19 indoors. Top of mind is ensuring HVAC systems are maintained and operating properly.

Other measures include:

  • turning off or limiting air recirculation
  • opening windows and doors to increase the intake of fresh air
  • checking exhaust fans are functional and operating at full capacity
  • ensuring staff do not attend work if they are unwell
  • practicing physical distancing
  • maintaining good hygiene and environmental cleaning

Making workplaces safe after lockdown

With many employees still working remotely off-site, office buildings have been sitting idle – so too have the air conditioners. But at some point, businesses will welcome staff back to the office and before they do, they should call in the professionals first.

Safe Work Australia says HVAC systems should be inspected before workers return to buildings following lockdown to avoid risks associated with restarting after prolonged periods of shut down. Long periods of inactivity could lead to a build-up of surface corrosion and mould which, left untreated, could create health risks associated with poor air quality.

Working together to provide healthy working environments

The best way to improve indoor ventilation and prevent the spread of disease or infection is to have your HVAC system regularly inspected and maintained. Choose a commercial air conditioning contractor you can rely on. Ausmech Air’s air conditioning maintenance program includes a thorough inspection, testing, cleaning, deodorising coils, unblocking drains and checking for damaged parts – all of which ensures the system runs as it should to protect building occupants and safeguard systems against malfunctions.

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