Pandemic exposes importance of workplace air quality


Cross-contamination of airborne viruses and diseases is nearly 20 times more likely indoors than out, yet most New Zealand employers and institutions have no formal air hygiene practices in place or guidelines to follow, Rentokil Initial New Zealand Managing Director Craig Wilson says

With new research revealing 4 out of 5 Kiwis believe they are at risk of being exposed to Covid-19 and other airborne viruses in workplaces, Rentokil Initial is urging businesses to implement air hygiene practices to safeguard their employees and customers and help with the return to normal.

Poor indoor air quality is responsible for 3.8 million premature deaths globally, and with most urban dwellers spending 90% of their time indoors, either at home, at work or in an educational facility, adopting strategies to improve air quality within low ventilation areas is crucial in making these spaces safer.

The reality is that most Kiwis feel at risk of being exposed to Covid-19 in indoor environments, and with good reason. Making indoor environments safer through proper air hygiene strategies is critical to making our communities feel safe whilst undertaking essential activities, whether that’s going to work, school, or buying groceries.

The pandemic has brought to light the extent of the indoor air quality crisis across the globe. New Zealand has a unique opportunity to do what other countries have been unable to do, and act now to protect their customers, patients and employees from the well-documented risks of poor indoor air quality.

Having a 360-degree hygiene solution in place can go a long way in protecting businesses’ bottom lines by preventing many of the negative impacts on employees and workplaces caused by virus transmission.

Kiwis want action on improved air hygiene

Recently commissioned research by Rentokil Initial shows almost three quarters of Kiwis (72%) agree that it should be mandatory to have an air hygiene protocol at New Zealand aged care, medical and hospital environments.

Furthermore, over half of Kiwis (56%) believe that businesses and organisations should be doing more to protect customers and staff from the airborne transmission risk of the Covid-19 variants, with 65% saying they would be more comfortable being in a shared workplace if there was an air hygiene protocol in place.

Business and institutions need clear guidelines on air quality

Kiwis identified shopping centres, educational facilities, workplaces, aged care facilities, and medical practices as the most at-risk venues for airborne transmission of Covid-19 and other viruses.

University of Technology Sydney Emeritus Professor, Bruce Milthorpe, echoes this sentiment and believes indoor environments including workplaces, aged care facilities and educational institutions should have clear guidelines in place to improve ventilation.

“Research shows that aerosol transmission in places of low ventilation, such as hotels, aged care facilities, and medical practices, is the likely cause of current transmission. This is because poor ventilation means aerosols remain for a long time after the person has left,” Professor Milthorpe says.

“It’s time to prioritise the reduction of aerosol transmission within these highly frequented indoor venues to end lockdown. Innovative solutions with proven credentials are a crucial step in helping restore consumer confidence and paving the way to our new normal.”