Keep your workplace well ventilated

Taking steps to improve ventilation will make your workplace safer for your staff and your customers.

Good ventilation is one more layer of protection for you, your staff, your customers and your business. The more layers of protection you put in place – such as staying home if you’re sick, getting vaccinated, wearing a mask and healthy habits, the harder it will be for infections to spread.

Here are some simple ways to improve air quality in your workplace:

Naturally venting spaces

  • Open doors and windows as much as possible, for as long as you can. If it’s getting too cold, try keeping them open a crack. Every little bit helps.
  • Having several windows open at different ends of a room most of the time generally won’t cool a room down much and may allow cross ventilation.
  • Opening all the windows when a room isn’t being used will reduce the risk to the next set of occupants.

More advice for naturally ventilated spaces:

Ventilation guidance(external link) — Te Mahau

Using mechanical ventilation systems such as HVAC

Most commercial buildings have heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems (these are different to heat pumps). These systems can carry out multiple functions including heating or cooling the air, exchanging stale air for fresh air, altering the humidity, and cleaning the air to remove pollutants, pollen or dust.

Make sure systems are regularly maintained and optimised:

  • Change the settings to outside exhaust to increase the amount of fresh air circulation. 
  • Keep your fans and ducts clean and clear, clean filters and replace as required, and ensure your flow rates are balanced.
  • Talk to your building owner or ventilation professional about maintaining the system and maximising the ventilation rate.
Good ventilation can help to stop illnesses like flu and COVID-19 spreading through buildings.

Good ventilation can help to stop illnesses like flu and COVID-19 spreading through buildings.

Carbon dioxide monitoring

The more people in a room together, the greater the risk of infections spreading from person to person. The risk of infection within an indoor space can be assessed by measuring the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air, as this will reflect the number of people in the space, their breathing rate, the size of the space and the levels of ventilation.

Many modern ventilation systems will determine ventilation levels by monitoring the amount of carbon dioxide levels in the air. Carbon dioxide monitors are relatively inexpensive and can be used to measure ventilation in spaces where people gather such as meeting rooms, kitchens or dining rooms. This is not a fool-proof way to measure your air quality but may help you to monitor your efforts and may provide some reassurance to your customers and staff.

Learn more about how to assess ventilation using CO2 monitoring:

Assessing ventilation(external link) — Te Mahau

Air cleaning technologies

If you have an HVAC system, firstly ensure it’s working to its full potential before looking at additional actions. If you’re a tenant, talk to your building owner.

Air cleaning technologies, such as High Efficient Particular air (HEPA) filters or Ultraviolet light, can remove a wide range of pollutants or infectious organisms from the air without exchanging stale air for fresh air. These technologies can be used as part of an HVAC system, in addition to an HVAC system or instead of an HVAC system.

When good ventilation is not possible, air purifiers can be used as an additional preventative measure to reduce the number of virus-laden particles.

Find advice on how to use air purifiers: 

Reducing the risk of Covid-19 transmission through the use of air purifiers(external link) — Public Health Expert

Find more information on air cleaning:

Air cleaning technologies(external link) — Ministry of Health

More advice on controlling the spread of airborne diseases in commercial buildings:

Controlling the spread of airborne diseases in commercial buildings(external link) — Building Performance

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