Breathe Freely Controlling exposures to prevent occupational lung disease in industry
Breathe Freely UK
BOHS Simple Ventilation Self-Help Guide for Workplaces During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Why are we still talking about ventilation and coronavirus?
  • Workplaces still have a duty to reduce exposure of the workers to COVID-19.
  • The most effective measure against the spread of coronavirus and its variants is social distancing.
  • Vaccination is having a huge positive effect on health outcomes but should not be relied upon instead of proper controls for coronavirus prevention. Read more about why here.
  • However, while social distancing measures are being relaxed in public places, good ventilation remains a really powerful tool to limit the risk of coronavirus spreading amongst your workforces. Good ventilation is also really important to dilute any contaminants in the air and provide clean air to protect the health of the people in the space.
Why has BOHS developed a non-technical ventilation check tool?
  • Ventilation in buildings is complex, that’s why, in addition to the excellent technical guidance available here, we produced some simple frequently asked questions (FAQs). However, a really frequently asked question happens to be: Is my ventilation good enough?
  • The answer will depend on a lot of different things. This is why we have created a very simple tool that you can use to help you. It aims to give some guidance to employers, building users and building owners about whether their ventilation is going to have any effect on reducing coronavirus transmission.
  • However, if you have any doubts, you should refer to a ventilation specialist, or an occupational hygienist to assess the risk in your workplace, such as those listed on the BOHS consultant’s directory.
What does the tool do?
  • The tool enables you to put in basic information about a workspace, the number of people who use it and the types of ventilation you have.
  • It uses a very basic scoring system to give you an indication as to whether your ventilation is likely to have no effect, some effect, or a strong effect on reducing the risk of coronavirus transmission.
  • It works for spaces that people spend time in (not stairwells and corridors where people are in for short periods) and where the building meets current building regulations requirements in terms of ventilation.
  • This should give you an idea whether your ventilation can be used to have an impact on reducing coronavirus transmission.
What doesn't the tool do?
  • This tool does not assess all forms/methods of ventilation of a room, it only provides an indication of ventilation performance for the most common methods of ventilation. There are lots of other things that can affect ventilation effectiveness (look at the BOHS ventilation FAQs for further guidance).
  • The tool does not cover the other coronavirus transmission routes. Ventilation alone won’t prevent transmission. You still need to think about other control measures in COVID-19 risk assessment (Look at the BOHS control risk matrix for further help).
  • The tool looks at one space at a time. You should not try and use it for complex spaces with walls, partitions or a whole building. You will need to take one ventilated workspace at a time.
What we mean by particular words
  • Ventilation means the flow of air through a space. This may be by mechanical means such as a Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system, or by natural means such as opening windows.
  • Poorly ventilated means that the risk of coronavirus transmission through the aerosol route is increased as a result of insufficient clean/fresh air being supplied to dilute airborne concentrations of COVID-19 related aerosol
  • HVAC means ‘Heating Ventilation and Air-Conditioning’ and is often a descriptor used to mean a dedicated system that is used to control the condition of air being mechanically moved in a building or internal space.