(Photo : Pexels/ Ono Kosuki) CDC workplace standards

Scientists are now pushing the CDC to set a standard for air quality in workplaces, now that people are slowly going back to the office and businesses are opening up.

According to The New York Times, since COVID-19 lingers in the air and people can be infected by the deadly virus through inhalation of contaminated air, scientists are asking the CDC to release strict workplace guideline to prevent further spread of the virus as offices are also enclosed spaces.

Preparing workplaces for COVID-19

The CDC had released a statement addressing the concern and had instructed businesses that before they resume their operations, they need to ensure a proper ventilation system in their facility.

For building heating, air conditioning and ventilation that have been shut down for months, a proper review should be conducted and the new construction start-up guidance provided in ASHRAE Standard 180-2018, Standard Practice for the Inspection and Maintenance of Commercial Building HVAC Systems should be followed.

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An increase circulation of outdoor air must be done as much as possible by opening doors and windows, as well as using fans. Evaluate the building and its life safety systems to know if it is ready for occupancy.

Also, business owners need to check for hazards associated with prolonged facility shutdown like rodents, pets, mold growth or issues with stagnant water systems, and take appropriate remedial actions.

Conducting a hazard assessment of the workplace is also encouraged, in order to identify potential workplace hazards that could increase the risks for COVID-19 transmission.

Identify work and the common areas where the employees could have close contact with and include also all employees in the workplace in communication plans, all of these areas needs to be clean and disinfected.

If the contractors are employed in the workplace, business owners need to develop plans in order to communicate with the contracting company regarding the modifications to work processes and requirements for the contractors to prevent the transmission of the virus.

Double masking

Aside from a clean environment and sanitized air, the CDC also encourages double masking. On January, the CDC tested two modifications in order to improve the performance of the commonly used masks by using the double masking method and knotting method, according to CNN.

The study also found that knotting can help improve the overall performance of medical procedure masks. By folding the edges of the masks inward and by knotting the ear loop strings where they meet the mask fabric, the excess fabric is flattened and it helps reduce the gap on either side of the face.

A medical mask that is knotted can block at least 63% of the particles that could contain the coronavirus from escaping. It is a significant improvement from the 42% blockage of particles when the masks are unknotted, according to CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report that was published on Feb. 16.

The study also found that when both of the source are infected and uninfected and are wearing double masks, the exposure from potentially infectious aerosols of the uninfected person was decreased by 96.4%. When both people wore knotted masks, the exposure was decreased by 95.9%.

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Written by Sieeka Khan

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