Following the publication of the ‘Return to Work Safely Protocol, COVID-19 Specific National Protocol for Employers and Workers’, as issued by the Government of Ireland, EAM Group completed a review of the protocol from the perspective of how the management of assets and engineering knowledge could be better utilised to control or prevent the spread of the virus.
As part of the review, we incorporated the latest research from the UK Chartered Institute of Building Service Engineers and the Federation of European Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Association and other sources of information on reported outbreaks through noncontact within the hospitals, educational, food and transport sectors.
Following our review, EAM Group has written to the Department of the Taoiseach, the Department of Health and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and we have advised that consideration is given to including some of the findings from the aforementioned specialists into ‘Section 7d Heating, ventilation air conditioning’ of the Irish guidance document. E.g.: ‘Employers must complete as a minimum, an independent survey to determine their existing ventilation strategy and undertake actions which are reasonably practicable. ‘
We have further advised that consideration should be given to a grant for an independent ventilation inspection and verification, inclusive of recommendations, to be undertaken to ensure the health of employees, and manage the risk of the SARS-CoV2 transmission.
EAM Group strongly recommends that inspections be completed by an independent third party and not the resident maintainer. The inspection should include a visual inspection of the installation, verification of air supplies, review of maintenance records and the provision of a report detailing individual room assessments, an overall assessment of the ventilation system (passive & active) and provide a set of recommendations where applicable.
Finally, it is our recommendation that all business premises, educational facilities, food processing plant, food preparation premises, pubs, restaurants and coffee shop should have a documented ventilation strategy. Where full compliance for face coverings is not possible or practical, then additional considerations and assessments are required to address the risks associated with aerosol transmission.
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