Ventilation rules for workplaces and public transport
The Department of Health has reported that Covid-19 cases reached 684,311 last week, including the 91,754 patients who are currently sick with the respiratory disease while the death toll reached to13,039.
Out of the cases reported, 54 percent are male, with the most affected age group 20 to 29 years (26 percent) followed by the age group 30 to 39 years (23.6 percent). Out of the 13,039 deaths, 60 percent are male with the most affected age group over 70 (35.3 percent) followed by the age group 60 to 69 years (27.7 percent).
With this data, the age groups 20 to 29 and 30 to 39 compose the bulk of employed persons.
Labor Sec. Silvestre H. Bello III has signed Department Order 224, s. 2021 as part of the continuing effort of the government to prevent and control the spread of the Covid-19 virus in the workplace and cognizant of a large amount of working time indoors and in poorly ventilated spaces.
Adequate ventilation should be strictly enforced inside the workplace as a preventive measure against the spread of Covid-19 virus.
The new guidelines cover proper ventilation of workplaces in all commercial and industrial establishments, projects, sites, and all other places, where work is being undertaken indoors except health care facilities requiring special considerations in the control of the Covid-19. The order includes public transport.
The set of guidelines include the installation and use of exhaust fans in indoor workplaces, restrooms, and water closets; ventilation in air, rail, land, and sea transport, and other measures to improve; and maintain the quality of air in the workplace and public transportation.
For non-air-conditioned spaces, the guidelines recommend maximizing natural ventilation through the use of doors, windows, and other openings. If natural ventilation is not feasible or inadequate, mechanical ventilation shall be provided.
For air-conditioned spaces and heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems, the outdoor air supply should conform to the recommended breathing zone ventilation rates for air dilution and comfort control. The said ventilation system is also recommended to be used for at least 30 minutes before and after spaces are occupied.
Strategies were also recommended for restrooms and water closets, which includes making sure that exhaust fans in restroom facilities are functional and operating at full capacity when the building is occupied. When toilets/water closets are used, it is advised to close the toilet bowl seat lid before flushing, if available, to minimize the release of droplets into the air due to flushing.
Proper ventilation in the workplace is as important as the observation of minimum public health standards inside workplaces and public transport which include air, land, rail and sea.
Department Order 224, s. 2021 is also in pursuant to LTFRB MC 2020-061 “Updated Protocols for PUVs”; DOH DM2020-0429 “Guidance of Ventilation for Covid-19 Mitigation”; DOLE-DTI JMC 20-04-A and DOLE-DTI Advisory 20-03-2020, the following are advised: provide natural ventilation and access to open air; avoid using the recirculated air option for the vehicle’s ventilation during passenger transport; ensure adequate ventilation, if possible, by opening windows by at least three inches while in transit, provided that it is safe to do so; ensure regular and proper maintenance of filters of the vehicle air-conditioning units, if applicable; for rail and road transport, impose a minimum of 15 seconds for the opening of doors for passenger’s exit and entry.
To ensure that the following minimum public health standards are being followed, passengers must wear properly the approved facemasks and face shields at all times; follow strictly the proper and frequent disinfection; before and after completing a route, implement one-seat apart distance for passengers; do not allow passengers to sit beside other, unless plastic barriers are installed between them; and disinfect regularly plastic barriers after each trip or as necessary; post updated Covid-19 information through IEC materials; avoid answering phone calls or having conversations while inside the public transport; and prohibit eating and drinking while inside the public transport and do not allow symptomatic passengers on board.