How to improve ventilation and encourage air flow from outside to help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 in the workplace.

There is new guidance on building ventilation for workplaces to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. This guidance can be incorporated into a business’ COVIDSafe PlanExternal Link .

Video - Why is ventilation important

COVID-19 is airborne. It is primarily spread between people breathing in very small virus-containing droplets or aerosols.

The risk of aerosol transmission is higher if someone with COVID-19 is in a poorly ventilated space. This is because fine aerosol spray from an infected person can remain circulating, linger and spread to other people in a space more easily.

The risk of transmission is highest where there is an overlap of the ‘Three C’s’:

  • crowded places
  • close-contact settings (such as face-to-face conversations)
  • confined or enclosed spaces.

Video - Improving ventilation in your business

Types of ventilation and how they can be improved

1. Natural ventilation

Natural ventilation forces air movement through and around an occupied space.

Opening windows and leaving doors open in hallways and corridors allows fresh air into a room. This helps dilute indoor air and remove particles suspended in the air (like aerosolised COVID-19 droplets or viral particles).

2. Mechanical ventilation

Using mechanical equipment increases airflow by replacing or diluting indoor air with outside air. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems or air conditioning units filter air to maintain air quality.

This can be improved by:

  • maximising the amount of outside air into a space by disabling any control systems that vary the amount of fresh air based on occupancy
  • changing the settings to increase the proportion of outdoor air recirculating in a space
  • installing a higher-grade filter within the air handling unit.

3. Augmented ventilation

Portable filtration units catch particles in a filter. This increases the clean air delivery rate and reduces the concentration of viral particles in the air.

This can be achieved by:

  • adding a portable fan filter unit (PFFU) to areas where air circulation is the lowest, such as corners of rooms, the centre of large rooms, and away from windows, doors, or extract grilles
  • using ceiling fans or wall-mounted air-conditioning units to help distribute filtered air around a space.

For further information, visit COVID-19 ventilation principles and strategiesExternal Link .

Ventilation guidance for businesses

Small Business Ventilation Guide

The Small Business Ventilation Guide provides simple tips to help businesses and workplaces improve ventilation and reduce COVID-19 transmission.

Ventilation self-assessment guides

Detailed self-assessment guides are available for different workplace settings. This guidance provides ways for businesses and building owners to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by encouraging air flow from outside. While businesses are not required to take steps to improve ventilation, all Victorians are encouraged to do what they can to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Download the relevant guide/s to improve ventilation in rooms and spaces in your business:

Ventilation advice during the cooler months

There is an increased risk of COVID-19 spreading in the cooler months because windows and doors tend to be closed. When the outside temperature drops, businesses should still try to maximise natural ventilation by opening windows where practical, even if only for 10 minutes each hour. The comfort and safety of workers and customers should remain a priority. Where possible use split systems in fan only mode to promote the circulation of air.

Reviewed 27 April 2022

Coronavirus Victoria

24/7 Coronavirus Hotline

If you suspect you may have COVID-19 call the dedicated hotline – open 24 hours, 7 days. The COVIDSafe Information hotline diverts to the national hotline every day from 8pm to 8am.

Please keep Triple Zero (000) for emergencies only.

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