Leading air quality specialist Bureau Veritas has welcomed the recent updates to Approved Document F, which is part of significant changes to Building Regulations, as a step in the right direction for indoor ventilation – particularly as the Government announces its ‘Living with COVID’ plan, and an end to COVID-19 isolation laws.
Recent research found that more than 12 million residents in the UK are living with health issues that can be exacerbated by air pollution, and three million working days are lost every year because the UK’s air pollution exceeds the World Health Organization’s recommended limits.
The last two years have highlighted the importance of indoor air quality and ventilation and the task at hand now, according to Bureau Veritas, is to take learnings from COVID-19 and the habits formed to manage air flow to ensure compliance to new Part F regulations.
Joe Marais, Occupational Hygiene Manager at Bureau Veritas, comments: “Ventilation has become something of a clear focus both within the home and workplace over the last two years, with a greater awareness of poor air quality and ventilation linked to COVID-19. As the Government announces its living with COVID strategy and an end to all remaining restrictions, it’s even more vital that businesses remain alert to the importance of good ventilation in mitigating the spread of the virus – as well as other illnesses such as the common cold – ensuring wellbeing for its staff, and efficiency and productivity for the business.
“There are a number of simple steps businesses can take to drive towards greater fresh air ventilation, by opening windows or utilising air handling units – both of which COVID shone a spotlight on. However, the introduction of Part F places strict technical requirements on what must be achieved through ventilation.”
Under new Part F regulations, there is a requirement for whole building ventilation to meet a standard of 10 litres of fresh air per person per second, or one litre per second per square metre – whichever is highest (compared to only the former requirement in the past). Common spaces will also require natural ventilation under Part F, with openings equal to at least 1/50th of the floor area or mechanical ventilation to supply 0.5 litres of fresh air per second per m2 of the common floor space area.
Joe continues: “The pandemic highlighted that ventilation is a vital component for all buildings, placing a requirement on businesses and building managers to monitor indoor air quality, specifically within ‘high risk’ occupiable rooms, where there is a risk of airborne infection. COVID-19 measures temporarily enhanced standards, with many employers having invested in improved mechanical ventilation and air circulation services to support employee health and wellbeing. However, these temporary standards must become permanent if businesses hope to comply to new Part F rulings, and not slip back to pre-COVID attitudes.
“To ensure a robust strategy is in place to promote good ventilation within the workplace, businesses must first ensure a quantitative assessment has been completed within the premises to monitor the ratio of fresh air to the size of the room or number of occupants, as well as qualitative reviews of air handling units to scrutinise their functionality.
“This may sound like quite an undertaking, which is why we would always recommend partnering with a third party compliance specialist to complete the relevant audits and assessments, enabling the building manager to focus on creating a strategy to implement any recommendations.”
Bureau Veritas’ experienced Occupational Hygiene division has a longstanding history is supporting businesses to protect staff and customers from exposure to poor ventilation, as well as maintaining compliance with relevant regulations. The firm’s hygienists will assess, monitor, and evaluate a business’ current levels of ventilation and air quality, and provide sound advice on how to bring these up to standard to meet Part F regulations, or how they can be further improved. This allows businesses to operate effectively and efficiently whilst protecting health and achieving compliance.
Businesses and building managers can also receive further advice and support on Part F from Bureau Veritas, by registering for its free webinar on Thursday 3 March at 11:00am. The webinar will cover what the updates to Part F mean for indoor air quality, what we have learnt from COVID-19 and what is expected from air handling units for new buildings.
Click here to register for Understanding Part F updates: The role of indoor air quality to support wellbeing.
To find out more about Bureau Veritas’ Occupational Health services or to discuss individual requirements with a member of the team, call 0345 600 1828 or visit www.bureauveritas.co.uk.