With staff going back to the workplace, they need to be confident the risks to their heath from viruses are minimised, with employers creating a safe working environment to reduce the chance of staff sickness. Working from home is not going to disappear any time soon, and it is unlikely there will be a huge stampede of the workforce returning to office life, but as staff do return, employers need to ensure this is beneficial for all.
Legally, employers have a duty to manage risks to those affected by their business. The way to do this is to carry out a health and safety risk assessment, including the risk of COVID-19, and to take reasonable steps to mitigate any risks. The Government’s working safely guidance sets out a range of mitigations employers should consider including identifying poorly ventilated areas and taking steps to improve airflow in these areas.
The risk from poor ventilation is likely to be greater the more people are present indoors, and the longer they are present in the room, and with the removal of the need to wear face masks, greater attention should now be turned to improving indoor air quality. In many cases, ventilation can be improved by opening doors, windows, and vents, but with many modern buildings today designed to be carbon neutral, this is not always possible.
One recommendation by the Government is to install an air cleaning or filtration unit. Air cleaning or filtration is not a substitute for good ventilation, but where poor ventilation cannot be improved in other ways a suitable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter or ultraviolet air purifier can reduce airborne diseases. The public has grown aware over the past two years of the benefits of cleaning the air using various air filters and air purifiers, so the installation of such units in an office space will go a long way to instil confidence in staff that they’re in a safe environment.
Installing an air purifier with a True HEPA filter, which will have been made to strict international regulations, will trap most bacteria, pathogens, microbial spores, pollens, and some virus particles. Capturing harmful particles and circulating clean air throughout a room, will help in keeping workers healthy so their immune system is a tiny bit stronger to fight off any viruses which will ultimately help reduce disruption and workplace absence.
Chris Michael, MD of Meaco, developers of the MeacoClean CA-HEPA 76x5 said, “having an advanced air purifier from a recognised brand like Meaco in the office will make staff more comfortable about returning to the office and will reduce absenteeism amongst the workforce. Having people together in the office will not only help to improve productivity, but it will also make work more enjoyable as we are social animals, and we have all missed direct interactions with our friends and colleagues. At Meaco we are delighted to be playing our small part in getting Britain back to work safely.”