Ensuring the office is a safe space

December 16, 2020

The Coronavirus pandemic has introduced chaos into the working landscape, but it has also introduced the idea of more flexible working arrangements. Many people who commuted to their place of work on a daily basis have now found it possible to undertake most of their tasks from the comfort and safety of home.

Welcoming staff back

Flexible working is a two-way street. As the risks from COVID-19 are managed, (and the roll-out of an effective vaccination is underway) employees may have a strong desire to return to the office, for at least part of their working week. Some may miss the camaraderie or the atmosphere which they find more conducive to working – some may even have found the confines of their homes and the isolation they have endured to be detrimental to their mental health.

Creating a safe space

Employers must therefore be ready, willing and able to invite employees back. And in order to be ‘ready’, the office has to be a safe environment to which they can return.

As an employer, you may well have already given thought to the physical aspects of getting COVID-safe – increasing the separation of desks, introducing a one-way system to avoid bottlenecks, perhaps even installing screens and sanitiser stations. But what about the air?

It’s the Law

Under the Health & Safety at Work Act etc. 1974 and the Occupiers Liability Act 1984, an employer has a duty of care to ensure that the environment they provide is safe and healthy.

When it comes to air, the Approved Code of Practice accompanying the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations, states that indoor air quality should be ‘at least equal to, but ideally better than, the air outside your building’. In fact, the ACOP states that ‘the air introduced should, as far as possible, be free of any impurity which is likely to be offensive or cause ill health.’

Sources of contamination, areas of concern

Depending on the type of work you carry out at your premises you may generate your own contaminants, or you may just be located in a busy city-centre area where the air being brought into has environmental pollutants in large quantities. Dust levels may have built up as the building has been at least partially empty but, even if regular cleaning has taken place, there’s a possibility that the level of Volatile Organic Compounds (originating from the cleaning products) has risen whilst no one has been there to increase the ventilation.

Traditional filtration is simply not enough

Whatever the source, the biggest risk to your employees health and well-being comes from ultrafine particles which can penetrate deep into the lungs. Removal of these contaminants is not possible with air purifiers utilising traditional filters as they can typically only remove particles above 300 nanometres. To eliminate the real risks to health – including bacterial and viral contamination – Genano technology is required, removing impurities as small as just 3 nanometres in size.

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