Noting its commitment to protecting the health and safety of workers and workplaces, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) said it will be issuing a series of alerts designed to keep workers safe during the pandemic, beginning with guidelines regarding ventilation.
Ensuring adequate ventilation throughout the work environment can help to maintain a safe and healthy workplace, OSHA said. Employers should work with a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) professional to consider steps to optimize building ventilation, OSHA advised.
An HVAC professional can ensure that the ventilation system is operating as intended, OSHA said. To reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus, OSHA said, practices should:
- 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 and open windows or other sources of fresh air where possible
- Ensure that 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; the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers recommends N95 respirators, disposable gloves, and eye protection such as safety glasses, goggles, or face shields
- 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
OSHA offers more information online and at (800) 321-OSHA (6742).