The changes come as the government has announced 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 air pollution in the UK 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 the pandemic, the ensuing lockdowns, and the habits formed to manage air flow to ensure compliance to new Part F regulations.
Joe Marais, Occupational Hygiene Manager at Bureau Veritas, commented: “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 their 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 the 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, 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.
Marais continued: “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.”
Businesses and building managers can 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.
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