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COVID-19 pandemic: OSHA safety alert focuses on workplace ventilation

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Washington — Aimed at ensuring proper ventilation in indoor workplaces amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a new OSHA safety alert lists measures employers and building managers should take.

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning professionals can help optimize building ventilation and keep HVAC systems properly maintained. Steps to consider include increasing an HVAC system’s outdoor air intake and ensuring exhaust air isn’t being pulled back into the building. Opening windows or other sources of fresh air also is recommended, when possible and safe.

 

Other tips:

  • Make sure all HVAC systems are fully functional, especially those that have been shut down or operating at reduced capacity during the pandemic.
  • Remove or redirect personal fans to prevent air blowing from one worker to another.
  • Consider using a high-efficiency particulate air fan/filtration system to increase clean air, particularly in high-risk areas.
  • Use HVAC system filters with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value of 13 or higher, where feasible.
  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (e.g., N95 respirators, eye protection and disposable gloves) when changing HVAC filters.
  • Ensure restroom exhaust fans are fully operational, remain on and function at maximum capacity.
  • Encourage workers to stay home if they’re sick and report all safety and health concerns.

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