As the COVID-19 pandemic has gone on, we’ve learned a lot. You may recall that in the early days of the pandemic, we didn’t really know how it passed from person to person. Was it spread purely through larger respiratory droplets, like the kind a person ejects when they sneeze? What about smaller respiratory particulates, like the ones we expel when we breathe and talk? And was it possible to get it simply by touching an object, such as a tool at work or someone’s credit card?
Over time, of course, we’ve learned more. For example, while there may be some exceptions, it’s now apparent that people don’t generally get infected with COVID because the COVID virus was on a surface they touched. Likewise, we’re beginning to learn that while COVID can definitely be transmitted from those larger-sized droplets we might expel when we sneeze or cough (and which tend to fall to the ground quite quickly, within six feet or so), it seems COVID can also be caught from smaller, lighter particles we expel when we talk and breath (and which can float for extended periods of time and can travel large distances in the air).
As a result, cleaning surfaces seems less important and things like keeping windows open and using better ventilation seem more important.
In this article, we’ll review some recommendations for ventilation that OSHA provides in their January 20, 2021 COVID guidance.
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It’s important to recognize expertise and OSHA does it in their own guidance by suggesting we all check out the CDC’s guidance on improving ventilation in buildings to reduce the risk of COVID infections and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Guidance for Building Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
So in addition what we’ll say here and what you’ll learn from OSHA, be sure to check out those two sources for more on COVID & ventilation.
Here are some of the tips OSHA calls out in their January, 2021 COVID guidance for using building ventilation to reduce COVID risks:
For even more information about mitigating COVID risks at work, check out our recorded webinar, Putting Together a COVID Prevention Plan at Work.