A free tool to fight Covid-19

A free tool to fight Covid-19

The British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) – a scientific charity and the chartered society for worker health protection in the UK – has developed a free, online ventilation tool to help limit the transmission of Covid-19 in workplaces in collaboration with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The British government has advised businesses to use CO2 monitoring equipment to check whether indoor spaces are sufficiently ventilated, while the Welsh government has announced millions of pounds of funding for CO2 monitors. BOHS has taken this a step further, following the publication of its Guidance on Ventilation*. Working with the HSE to create a simple Ventilation Tool** to support workplaces, the society aims to help reduce the exposure of workers to Covid-19.

Good ventilation is key to providing clean air and limiting the risk of coronavirus amongst workers, especially in enclosed spaces. Building ventilation can be complex, so BOHS and HSE decided to develop this non-technical ventilation check tool to provide guidance and an indication of the effectiveness of the specific ventilation system in reducing coronavirus transmission. The tool can be used by employers, building users, and building owners. It does not aim to replace ventilation specialists or occupational hygienists assessing risks in a workplace, especially when it comes to more complex ventilation needs.

The tool enables employers and employees to enter basic information about a workspace, the number of people who use it, and the types of ventilation used. It uses a very basic scoring system to give you an indication of whether your ventilation is likely to have no effect, some effect, or a strong effect on reducing the risk of coronavirus transmission. The tool works for spaces in which people spend time (not stairwells and corridors occupied for short periods) and where the building meets current building regulations requirements in terms of ventilation.

CO2 monitoring is also very important, as an increase in CO2 concentration in any area can be indicative of poor ventilation that needs to be improved. BOHS’s CO2 Monitoring Guidance*** aims to provide basic information on how monitoring CO2 levels can help control the spread of coronavirus, when it works well, what is a safe CO2 level, and how to monitor these levels.

Andrew Curran, HSE’s chief scientific officer, comments: “I’m really pleased to see the development of this practical tool, which will help to inform decisions about ventilation in workspaces.”

BOHS CEO, Professor Kevin Bampton, adds: “Covid-19 has highlighted the central importance of air quality in protecting workers from illness. We hope that these tools will enable people to better understand their working environment and the role ventilation plays in saving lives and preventing ill-health.”

Guidance on Ventilation and CO2 Monitoring can be found on the BOHS Covid-19 hub****, alongside guidance on managing Covid risk (as well as other health risks, like Legionella) in different sectors as the economy re-opens.

*          Access the list of frequently asked questions here: https://www.bohs.org/app/uploads/2021/07/COVID-19-and-Ventilation-FAQs-v2.pdf

**        Find the tool here: https://breathefreely.org.uk/ventilation-tool/

***      https://www.bohs.org/app/uploads/2021/09/CO2-Monitoring-and-Covid-19-Some-Basics.pdf

****    https://www.bohs.org/covid-19-hub/

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