OSHA has continued to issue a series of alerts that contain helpful tips that employers and workers should follow to protect themselves from exposure to COVID-19 at the workplace. OSHA asserts that adequate ventilation throughout a workplace can help maintain the heath and safety of workers. It is suggested the employers work with a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) professional to enhance building ventilation. HVAC professionals can help inspect a building’s ventilation systems and ensure that it is working properly. The following suggestions are provided by OSHA to help reduce risk of exposure to the coronavirus:
- Encourage workers to stay home if they are sick.
- Ensure all HVAC systems are functioning properly. Also check ventilation systems that have been shut down or are operating at reduced capacity during the pandemic.
- Remove or redirect personal fans to prevent air blowing from one worker to another.
- Use HVAC system filters with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating of 13 or higher, where feasible.
- Open windows or other sources of fresh air whenever possible to increase the HVAC system’s outdoor air intake.
- Ensure that exhaust air is not pulled back into the building by open windows are HVAC air intakes.
- In higher-risk areas, consider using portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) fan/filtration systems to increase clean air. These systems may be considered in all other areas of the workplace as well.
- When changing filters use protective equipment, such as N95 respirators, eye protection (safety glasses, goggles, or face shields) and disposable gloves. These protective measures are recommended by the ASHRAE.
- In restrooms, ensure exhaust fans are fully functional, operating at maximum capacity, and are set to remain on.
- Encourage workers to report any safety and health concerns.
For help with OSHA matters, including coronavirus-related citations, please call (312) 894-3322 or fill out our contact form.
Additional COVID-19 Resources
OSHA Guidance on Returning to Work
Handling an OSHA Inspection or Citations Relating to Coronavirus
Understanding Compliance With OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard During the COVID-19 Pandemic