What is the guidance on CO2 levels in the workplace, and how can you stay compliant?
Article provided by Carbon Numbers, a leading Building Management Systems supplier and energy reduction specialist.
The Coronavirus pandemic has brought with it many new challenges for the education sector, with schools being labelled as hot beds of infection during term-time. According to government figures, more than one million children were absent from school as a result of positive COVID-19 tests towards the end of the academic year, the highest recorded number since the return of students to classes in March.
Lack of ventilation in some classrooms is thought to be a key contributing factor to this sharp rise in cases, with students becoming vulnerable to infection through airborne transmission.
How do I identify poorly ventilated rooms?
Laws are now being introduced to ensure ventilation standards across the education sector. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are strongly recommending that employers identify those areas which are poorly ventilated by using CO2 monitoring devices, which collect live readings of CO2 levels in a room at any given time.
People release CO2 into the air as they breathe, which is why crowded offices and classrooms are likely to produce higher readings if they’re poorly ventilated.
What is a normal CO2 reading?
CO2 levels are measured in parts per million (ppm) by volume. To put this into perspective, if a small classroom or office showed a reading of 500ppm, that is the equivalent of around 15 litres of carbon dioxide in the air.
General guidelines suggest that CO2 levels inside a building should always be below 800 ppm, although a reading between 600 to 1,000 is more typical. Recent studies have suggested that long-term exposure to levels of CO2 higher than 1,000 is likely to have negative health implications, including headaches and tiredness. Not ideal for schools and offices!
How can I stay CO2 compliant?
Whilst the ideal solution is to open more windows, this is not always viable. Several facilities including care, hospitality, and education are obliged to use window restrictors in order to reduce the risk of an accidental fall.
However, there are other options available. Identifying areas that have higher readings of CO2 will allow facilities to install ventilation systems in targeted areas and help to minimise the spread of COVID-19 throughout the building. With the re-introduction of classroom-based teaching, ensuring that ventilation systems are installed is becoming a high priority.
What is Carbon Numbers doing to help?
At Carbon Numbers, we are in the process of installing more than 300 air monitoring devices at a leading London university. The smart cloud-based system will allow the university to monitor the air quality throughout its buildings and classrooms, reducing the risk of viral transmission between students. This is set to become common practice in both public and private sectors, with the HSE placing a growing emphasis on the duty of employers to keep their premises properly ventilated.
Our clients benefit from access to our real-time cloud-based system, one of the most advanced platforms on the market. The system allows clients to view live updates of each room within its facility and includes reporting on environmental changes such as CO2 levels, temperature, lighting, and current occupancy. Beyond simply identifying issues as they arise, our dedicated team works with clients to fix any problems as and when they happen, ensuring policy and procedures are always met.
Need more advice? Contact our team of specialists today.