US | COVID-19: OSHA Issues Guidance Document on Ventilation in the Workplace to Minimize Risks from COVID-19

OSHA has issued a guidance document on ventilation in the workplace in order to help employers minimize risks from COVID-19. The document is generally straight forward and directs employers to work with an HVAC professional to consider steps to optimize building ventilation. The document then provides specific tips on how employers can reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 via ventilation.

The tips are as follows:
  • Encourage workers to stay home if they are sick.
  • Ensure all HVAC systems are fully functional, especially those shutdown 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.

Sources:COVID-19 Guidance on Ventilation in the Workplace, OSHA, November 2020. ​

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