Ventilation and air conditioning during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic


The law requires employers to ensure an adequate supply of fresh air in the workplace and this has not changed during the pandemic.

Good ventilation, together with social distancing, keeping your workplace clean and frequent handwashing, can help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.

This guidance will help you identify poorly ventilated areas of your workplace and provides steps you can take to improve ventilation. It will apply in most workplaces.

Why ventilation is important

Balancing ventilation with keeping people warm

Identifying poorly ventilated areas

How to improve ventilation

Natural ventilation

Mechanical ventilation (including air conditioning)

Fans and air cleaning units

Ventilation in vehicles

Why ventilation is important

Good ventilation reduces the concentration of the virus in the air and therefore reduces the risks from airborne transmission. This happens when people breathe in small particles (aerosols) in the air after someone with the virus has occupied an enclosed area.

However, ventilation will have little or no impact on droplet or contact transmission routes.

You should consider ventilation alongside the relevant control measures required to reduce the risk of transmission as part of making your workplace COVID-secure.

Balancing ventilation with keeping people warm

Providing adequate ventilation does not mean that workplaces have to be cold.

Good ventilation is a balance between making sure workplaces are warm but keeping a flow of air going through an area.

Simple steps, such as partially opening windows, can be taken to ensure ventilation is maintained. Natural ventilation can be used with heating systems to maintain a reasonable temperature in the workplace.

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HSE, 5 February 2021