SARS-CoV-2 is mainly transmitted through the respiratory tract via droplet infection, but also through airborne aerosols with virus particles. In the workplace, especially in open-plan offices with a large number of employees in a limited space, the risk of infection increases in autumn and winter when windows can no longer be continuously open. In order to protect yourself against infection with the coronavirus, in addition to hand washing, keeping your distance and mouth and nose protection, regular ventilation comes to the fore. If done properly, this will reduce the concentration of viruses in the air.
The Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) has published the handout “Ventilation in accordance with infection control – Instructions and measures in times of the SARD-CoV-2 epidemic” with background information and specific tips. Since many office spaces are not equipped with so-called air conditioning systems (RLT systems), information on free ventilation is also summarized in the publication. These are the 5 most important.
# 1 point in time
The experts recommend ventilating offices after 60 minutes and meeting rooms after 20 minutes. Of course, a higher frequency is even better. The most efficient way of doing this is to use the so-called boost ventilation when the windows are completely open.
# 2 duration
Depending on the weather conditions, the room should be aired for at least three to ten minutes. In addition, permanent ventilation by tilting the windows can be useful in between – which is not ideal in terms of energy when room management is used at the same time.
# 3 CO2 measurement
To get a feeling for when to ventilate, you can use a CO2 traffic light to measure the amount of carbon dioxide in the room. Although this does not directly indicate a possible virus load in the air, the CO2 concentration in the room can serve as an indicator when an exchange should take place. A CO2 concentration of up to 1000 ppm (parts per million; this corresponds to a mass fraction of one milligram per kilogram) is still considered acceptable. During the pandemic, however, this value should be undercut if possible.
# 4 More action
“With individual ventilation measures, the risk of infection can be reduced, but not completely eliminated,” warns the federal government in its recommendation “Ventilation suitable for infection protection”. A coordinated package of individual measures therefore also included keeping rooms to a minimum, observing the distance rule, attaching suitable partitions and wearing everyday masks.
# 5 adjustments to ventilation
According to the BAuA, around 750,000 “non-residential buildings” throughout Germany are equipped with air conditioning systems, of which around 43 percent can only be operated in recirculation or mixed air mode. According to the federal government, employers are required to check all air conditioning systems and carry out necessary repair and maintenance work or have them carried out by the operator. A filter upgrade, for example, should be carried out for air conditioning systems with air circulation
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