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7. Ventilation and air conditioning

The law requires employers to ensure an adequate supply of fresh air in the workplace and this has not changed during the pandemic.

Good ventilation, together with social distancing, keeping your workplace clean and frequent handwashing, can help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.

Why ventilation is important

Good ventilation reduces the concentration of the virus in the air and therefore reduces the risks from airborne transmission.

This happens when people breathe in small particles (aerosols) in the air after someone with the virus has occupied an enclosed area.

Ventilation will not stop transmission caused by touching surfaces or by being close to someone sneezing or coughing.

You should therefore consider ventilation alongside the relevant control measures required to reduce the risk of transmission as part of making your workplace COVID-secure.

Questions to ask your workers on ventilation and air conditioning

  • How do we provide fresh air (ventilation) to our workplace?
    • Think about natural ventilation through windows, doors and vents that can be fully or partially opened
    • Think about how we use mechanical ventilation using fans and ducts to bring in fresh air from outside
  • How can we improve ventilation?
    • Think about areas that feel stuffy or smell bad – open windows, air vents and doors (not fire doors)
    • Think about airing rooms as frequently as you can – open windows and doors fully when the room is not occupied
    • Think about setting your systems to maximise fresh air and minimise recirculation
    • If an area’s ventilation needs improving, think about closing it until that has been achieved. Think about balancing keeping people warm with providing natural ventilation
  • What else can we do to improve ventilation?
    • What can you do?
    • What can your manager do?
    • What can the company or organisation do?
  • Think about balancing keeping people warm with providing natural ventilation

Find out more

To help answer these questions, read our guidance on ventilation and air conditioning during the pandemic.

This page is reviewed regularly and updated to reflect any changes in the guidance.

Page last reviewed: 31 March 2021

Next review due: 30 April 2021

Updated 2021-03-31