Leicester District
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Something in the Air

Andy Haynes, Leicester NEU H&S Officer
8th July 2022

Throughout the Covid pandemic there has rightly been a strong emphasis on the importance of face coverings and ventilation. Microbes that cause respiratory illnesses like Covid need to enter the respiratory system and this happens most easily when infected droplets and aerosol particles are inhaled. A face covering provides a barrier to these, and ventilation allows fresh air to dilute and disperse the aerosol. This is a lesson that mustn't be forgotten. It might be extreme to wear a mask to prevent a cold, but good ventilation will certainly mean that fewer people suffer with illnesses, particularly in winter.

Carbon dioxide monitors have been promoted as a means of monitoring the effectiveness of ventilation in a room. Normally the level of CO2 in the air is around 400ppm, but his rises in occupied areas as people exhale stale air. A good ventilation system, however, will keep the level below 800ppm. Anything above this shows that there is a problem and Covid virus in the air, as well as CO2, is potentially building up.

There are other reasons for monitoring CO2. Although it used to be thought that the concentration had to get to 1,500ppm before it had any noticeable effect, more recent studies have suggested that anything above 1,000 can cause tiredness, poor concentration and irritability. One study found that a level of 1,400ppm produced a reduction of up to 50% in cognitive ability.

Passing the Buck

Covid is on the rise again, despite what the government may want you to believe. The recent removal of restrictions was not what it seemed though. All the previous Covid mitigations are still recommended in the DfE Schools Operating guidance; they're just not compulsory. Schools still have the legal duty to ensure the safety of their employees and others that use their premises. Risk Assessments must still be in place, consulted on and updated as necessary. Ventilation and good hygiene should be insisted on as before. People should be sent home if they show symptoms and schools can insist that a child stays at home if they're ill. Remember that we need to be more like the Germans and not go to work if we're ill. Tell your Head that the PM told you so.

Accident Reporting

Yet again the issue of who should report an accident or violent incident on the SO2 forms has arisen. The LA is in the process of updating its guidance to schools, but nothing has changed.

The employee who is the victim of the incident should fill in the form.
It's up to the employee to decide if an incident needs reporting.
Work-related ill health should also be reported.
The employee must investigate the cause of any incident reported.