OSHA guidance on workplace ventilation

OSHA has released guidance on how to ventilate offices to decrease the airborne spread of COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently said small COVID-19 particles can travel longer distances in enclosed spaces that have “inadequate ventilation.”

OSHA is instructing offices to “consider steps to optimize building ventilation.” adding, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning professionals can help offices ensure the building ventilates air efficiently.

The agency advises workplaces to ensure all HVAC systems are functional and filters with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value rating of 13.

OSHA also recommends offices introduce fresh air by increasing the HVAC’s outdoor air intake or open windows where possible, and to keep exhaust fans running at maximum capacity in restrooms.

Enclosed offices that don’t have proper ventilation can pose a risk to staff. A recent study on an outbreak in a call center in South Korea found that 44% of infected workers sat on the same floor, and almost all of them sat close together.

Rachel Morrison, a professor of work psychology at the Auckland University of Technology, wrote in The Conversation, “Along with keeping windows open and bringing fresh air inside, offices can reduce the spread of coronavirus by staggering shifts, keeping remote work, and enforcing flexible schedules.”