New Government guidance recommends opening windows to reduce the virus spread
With workplaces returning now that the next stage of lockdown has been relaxed, most businesses have adapted their buildings to adapt to new Government guidelines. But whilst measures are in place to maintain social distance between employees and customers in businesses, and guidance over cleaning equipment is being followed, increased ventilation through opening windows has also been recommended.
The Government and the HSE’s advice is to increase ventilation in buildings – by opening windows and doors, or increasing air conditioning flow rates where possible to ensure there is an adequate supply of fresh air and ventilation. In addition, new guidance from the WHO also came to light in recent days stating that windows should also be opened where split-air conditioning units are in use. These type of air-conditioning units generally recirculate the same air within the room, rather than bring in a dedicated source of outside air, which could spread the virus amongst tables, even when social distancing is in place.
Dr Fitzgerald commented
“The recommended strategy now, if you have one of these split units, is to throw the window open and sacrifice your desire for a cold or cooler environment. If there is a modicum of wind it will move the air around”.
He added: “If you can’t open a window, you probably shouldn’t be using the space if it is occupied by more than one person.”
The reasons for this are simple – changing the air in a closed-circuit environment, such as an office, hairdressers, restaurant, means that virus-contaminated air is replaced with fresh air, hence reducing the spread of Covid-19 and slowing its transmission.
This isn’t new, but it’s never been so relevant as now. Changing the air in the room is widely known as a method to prevent infection from common colds and flu.
The advice follows a study in the Emerging Infectious Diseases journal that investigated an outbreak of COVID-19 amongst diners sat at three different tables at a restaurant in Guangzhou, China. The research suggests that the air conditioning unit in the restaurant could have spread the virus droplets between the three groups.
Erik Peper, a professor in the College of Health and Social Sciences at San Fransisco State University states
“One of the major reasons that the flu spikes in the winter is that people congregate indoors. People keep their windows closed to conserve heat and reduce heating-bill costs, but the lack of fresh-air circulation increases the viral density.”
The current guidance is to increase the availability of outside air as much as possible. The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) has therefore recommended that businesses should do a re-examination of their air conditioning and ventilation systems before staff and customers return, in order to minimise the risk of contamination.
The guidance states that where windows and doors can be opened, they should be, particularly in very social environments.
This is logical, however it creates other safety and security concerns for companies. How can you keep your staff and customers safe from falling from open windows even one floor above ground level? And how secure is your building if your open ground floor windows can easily be entered from outside?
Where there is a risk of a fall from a window, retrofitted cable or folding window restrictors can be used to prevent a child or adult from accidentally falling, whilst still allowing the crucial flow of fresh air to enter the room. There are a different range of restrictors that can be used depending on each situation. Jackloc restrictors come in many forms, whether they are required to be permanently fixed to the window or require a release mechanism to allow the window to open wide if needed when the room isn’t densely populated.
Window restrictors can also be used on ground floor windows to prevent opportune thieves from entering. Our Titan by Jackloc window restrictor is a folding window restrictor that is made of metal, meaning that it can’t easily be cut (and was just given crime prevention status by industry experts Sold Secure). Providing peace of mind for all businesses about the safety and security of their staff and equipment.
To help businesses assess what is right for their windows, we are offering a free virtual site survey where we can view your windows on a video call, whilst we are unable to visit and provide a recommendation free of charge. The call simply needs a video connection and a written report can be provided straight after the call. Please get in touch to book your slot below and we will be happy to share an honest recommendation.