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Al Salem Johnson Controls outlines COVID-19 precautionary measures

Company recommends steps to be taken for safe return to the workplace in the wake of Saudi Arabia easing restrictions of movement

| | Jul 8, 2020 | 9:58 am
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Rabie Makki

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia, 8 July 2020: Al Salem Johnson Controls (YORK) has highlighted the need for effective building and utility systems’ procedures to ensure that offices and buildings provide safety and protection from contaminants. The announcement, through a Press release, comes at a time of easing of restrictions in Saudi Arabia, and of life gradually returning to normal, with employees across all sectors returning to their workplaces.

Effective building and utility systems, including HVAC Systems, are indispensable in fighting the spread of any pandemic or infection, as they help in eliminating and reducing the impact of airborne viruses, thus ensuring the health and safety of employees and visitors inside the building, the company said. The outbreak of COVID-19, it added, has raised concerns about the virus’ airborne transmission, calling for an urgent re-evaluation of ventilation systems inside closed spaces in order to ensure a superior Indoor Air Quality (IAQ).

The company recommended several important precautionary measures, noting that such measures are optional and not mandatory, since they do not eliminate the risk of infection but help to reduce its transmission, especially with the possibility of viruses travelling through the air at a higher rate in closed spaces, in addition to the possibility of viral particles travelling between surfaces, if the air flow is higher than the required limit.

Rabie Makki, Product Manager – Airside, Al Salem Johnson Controls (YORK), stressed the importance of maintaining IAQ in buildings, through a number of basic requirements. It is essential to ensure the filtration and purification of air entering the building through the HVAC Systems, and the setting of temperature and humidity at specified levels, he said. Underlining the significance of maintaining the highest levels of fresh air in closed areas, he said that the percentage of fresh air differs from one place to another, depending on the application and utilisation purposes  – such as office buildings, factories, warehouses and hospitals – and the type of HVAC Systems it is equipped with.

 

Makki said that the best way to ensure that virus particles do not hover or linger in common enclosed spaces is to increase the rate of ventilation and air circulation, and to ensure the methods of expelling the particles outside the building.

 

International Air Quality Standards – including ASHRAE Standard 62.1 – recommend that air should be regularly changed and circulated in rooms every hour, depending on the size of the room, its use, the number of individuals inside it and other related factors. For example, the air inside smoking rooms needs to be changed 15-20 times/hour, laboratories 6-12 times, warehouses 3-10 times, offices 6-8 times, office buildings’ dining rooms 7-8 times, meeting rooms 8-12 times and parking in building basement 15-30 times.

 

Makki highlighted the company’s recommendations of providing air-handling units with high-quality, efficient filtration systems that can filter out viral particles of all sizes. He also spoke of the need of carrying out periodic preventive maintenance check-ups, and of increasing their frequency during the pandemic. Furthermore, he spoke of the need of cleaning and sterilising air ducts, water ducts, filters and other components, and of switching off and restarting the system from time to time, while ensuring optimum humidity levels inside the units, to combat the spread of viral particles, mould and bacteria in them.

 

Makki said project owners, consultants and contractors ought to consider several factors when designing new buildings and facilities.

The HVAC equipment should meet a building’s requirements, taking into account the necessary and the required levels of fresh air, and the need for increasing the ventilation, whenever required, as ventilation and an exchange between indoor and outdoor air is vital to reduce airborne pollutants and to reduce disease transmission rates.

Furthermore, he said, it is advisable to place the HVAC equipment in a part of the building that is easy to access for frequently carrying out the necessary maintenance and cleaning procedures. Humidity levels inside the building, he said, should not be less than 40% or exceed 60% in order to prevent the growth of mould and the multiplication of pollutants that will inevitably affect the health of people inside the buildings.


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