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Understanding The CDC’s COVID-19 Office Building Safety Guidelines

office space post COVID-19

As companies prepare to re-open their offices, employers must take action to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released information and interim guidance to help employers develop plans that protect the health and safety of their staff. Clean air solutions play a crucial role in combating COVID-19 in the workplace, and we at AQE want to help you understand and enact the COVID-19 office building safety guidelines for ventilation and air quality.

COVID-19 and Office Air Quality: Understanding Engineering Controls

To help reduce transmission among workers, the CDC recommends employers use a combination of hazard controls from the hierarchy of controls. At the middle of this hierarchy are engineering controls, which aim to isolate workers from the hazard either through physical distance (i.e., social distancing) or by removing it from the source before coming into contact.

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One engineering control method the CDC asks employers to consider is the use of high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) fan/filtration systems, especially in high traffic/risk areas such as meeting and break rooms. Understanding a few key terms will help you see why this is recommended as part of your COVID-19 workplace health and safety plan:

  • Dispersed Oil Particulate (DOP): Test used to measure the integrity and efficiency of a filter by introducing particulates and measuring the output. Results are presented as a percentage, i.e. a 95 percent DOP filter removes 95 percent of the particles introduced.
  • High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter: To achieve HEPA status, filters must pass the minimum required standard of 99.97 percent DOP efficiency for airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns. HEPA is considered the gold standard for air filtration.
  • Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values (MERVs): Indicating how well a filter captures larger particles (0.3 to 10 microns in size), the MERV value helps compare performance of different filters – the higher the MERV rating, the better that filter traps specific types of particles. Learn more about MERV ratings on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website.

Other engineering control methods include taking steps to physically separate employees and maintain social distancing throughout the building. This can mean modifying the layout of the office (i.e. rearranging furniture, shared devices such as printers, etc.); setting up physical barriers between workspaces; and using signs, tape, and other visual cues to show how far away to stand from one another. Additional information can be found on the CDC website.

AQE: Your Trusted Air Quality Solution Provider

As offices begin to re-open, AQE is here to help employers evaluate their COVID-19 workplace health and safety plan. We combine engineering and design expertise with our customer-focused approach to deliver clear answers and innovative, effective solutions.

MiracleAir PM-400 Portable HEPA Air Cleaner
AQEs PM-400 Air Cleaner features an industrial grade true HEPA and sorbent media filter that doesn’t require frequent replacement, offering the ideal combination of high performance and low maintenance. Perfect for use in office settings, its portable design and included casters allow it to be quickly and easily moved between high traffic areas such as meeting rooms, break rooms, and common spaces.

EverClear CM-11 and MiracleAir CM-12 Air Cleaners
Versatile and highly effective, our CM-11 and CM-12 Air Cleaners combine high efficiency filtration and absorbent media to handle both airborne contaminant and odor/vapor removal. They come standard with 95 percent DOP efficient (at 0.3 microns) HEPA-like filters, with 99.97 percent true HEPA options available.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge nearly all aspects of our daily lives. At AQE, our team members remain committed to our core value of customer care – now and always. As we continue forward during these difficult times, rely on AQE as your trusted advisor for air quality questions, concerns, and needs.

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Air Quality Engineering

Air Quality Engineering