Ventilation in the workplace
Employers must make sure there is adequate ventilation in enclosed areas of their workplace.
Ventilation is the process of bringing in fresh air from outside and removing indoor air, which may:
- be stale
- be hot and humid because of work machinery and processes
- contain pollutants and other impurities
This UK Health and Safety Executive Guidance will help you and your workers:
- assess your workplace to identify poorly ventilated areas
- decide on the actions you can take to improve ventilation
It does not cover the removal of harmful substances from the air such as welding fumes and dust generated by processes. For help with this, go to the UK Health and Safety Executive guidance on:
The guidance aims to help businesses comply with their duty to provide sufficient fresh air under health and safety law rather than reducing the spread of infectious diseases.
Why ventilation is important
Not only is it the law to provide sufficient fresh air, but studies have shown that good ventilation is associated with:
- improved health
- better concentration
- higher levels of satisfaction with an environment
- lower rates of absence from work
- better quality of sleep
- reduced exposure to a wide range of air pollutants
Methods of ventilation
The method of ventilation will depend on the building and you will need to decide which options work best for your workplace.
Natural ventilation relies on doors, windows and other openings such as trickle vents, air bricks or grilles to provide air.
Mechanical ventilation uses fans to move air into and out of rooms. In small spaces and buildings these may be in the room, but larger buildings may use a network of ducts and fans to blow clean air into rooms and/or extract the stale air.
Many buildings have a mixture of natural and mechanical ventilation, with either (or both) systems in different spaces.
What the UK law says
Under regulation 6 of the Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations, employers must ensure that every enclosed workplace is ventilated by a sufficient quantity of fresh or purified.
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