People Before Profit proposes Bill to guarantee air quality in workplaces

Lack of laws around ventilation standards during pandemic ‘crazy’, says Paul Murphy

PBP TD Paul Murphy said the Bill sought to follow an example set by Belgium to set minimum standards for air quality.   Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos Dublin

PBP TD Paul Murphy said the Bill sought to follow an example set by Belgium to set minimum standards for air quality. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos Dublin

 

People Before Profit is to introduce proposed legislation seeking to guarantee a certain standard of ventilation in workplaces to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

The proposed Private Members Bill states that every employee would have the right to request an inspection of their workplace by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) to verify sufficient levels of fresh air.

People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy said the Bill sought to follow an example set by Belgium to set minimum standards for air quality.

“It is quite a crazy situation that we are 18 months into a pandemic, the spread of the virus that is largely airborne, and we have zero laws in relation to ventilation,” he said.

“We know that proper ventilation dramatically reduces the likelihood of Covid outbreaks in workplaces,” he said.

“There is a reason why Nphet advise people to be outside if possible because outside transmission rates are much, much lower . . . A well-ventilated indoor venue will have half as much risk of transmission of Covid as a poorly ventilated indoor workplace,” he said.

Government grants

CO2 monitors should be required in every workplace, as well as schools, to measure air quality, he said.

Mr Murphy said the cost of monitors would generally be between €60 and €100, and added that in most cases maintaining sufficient air flow in a workplace would require “a couple of windows” to be open.

In cases where significant work would be required in workplaces, Government grants should be provided to fund the work, he said.

Under the proposed legislation, employers would be mandated to ensure the air quality in workplaces was kept at less than 900 parts per million of CO2.

The draft legislation adds that prohibition notices should be issued to workplaces where a HSA inspector deems the level of CO2 concentration is above 1,500 parts per million and proper air filtration devices have not been installed.