The HSE recently issued guidance on identifying poorly ventilated areas and using carbon dioxide (CO2) monitoring to help prevent the transmission of COVID. Checking CO2 levels using a monitor can be an indication that ventilation needs improving.
Carbon dioxide is also a workplace hazard, in high enough concentrations. However, CO is naturally present in the air we breathe – typical values of CO2 in ambient outdoor conditions are 400ppm while indoor spaces with good air exchange are 400-1,000ppm.
Prompted by the HSE campaign, the team who run Witney Foodbank were keen to understand more about the air quality in their storage depot and how they could ensure they were adequately protecting their team, most of whom are volunteers.
The team reached out to local monitoring instrument supplier Shawcity, who were more than happy to help the charity by donating a hire instrument so a survey could be carried out.
A top of the range EVM-7 portable environmental monitor was installed for four weeks during September 2021 in the charity’s storage area, which is located within Cottsway House in Witney, home of the Cottsway Housing Association. The instrument monitors and records levels of CO2, along with any volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present and dust levels to give a comprehensive analysis of the air quality conditions.
Neil O’Regan, Managing Director at Shawcity, said:
‘I’ve known Mick Morris for many years through our work together for the charity SpecialEffect. As Chair of the foodbank, when he heard about the advisory from the HSE, he knew that Shawcity supplied this type of monitoring equipment so got in touch.
‘Obviously we didn’t hesitate to help Mick and his team as we can appreciate the value of the essential work the foodbank delivers and we’re always keen to support our local community.’
On its return, data from the EVM 7 monitor was downloaded by the technical support team at Shawcity and reported back to the Foodbank. The readings showed that while CO2 levels fluctuated in the depot within the time period, they remained below 1,000ppm at all times. According to HSE guidelines, the workplace exposure limit (WEL) for long-term exposure to CO2 (8-hour reference period) is 5,000ppm.
The other parameters measured - including carbon monoxide, temperature, relative humidity, particulates (dust) and VOCs - also showed no cause for concern. The team can now rest assured the depot is well within all legal limits in terms of exposure and have peace of mind it is a safe place of work.
“The safety of our volunteers is a very high priority for us at Witney Foodbank. When we were informed that we needed to monitor our carbon dioxide levels, I immediately knew who to turn to for assistance. One call to Neil and the equipment was in place a day later. Shawcity were attentive and supportive throughout the four weeks of monitoring. Their team have an amazing depth of knowledge and their quality of service and customer support is second to none.”
For anyone wishing to monitor CO2 levels, there are various options available in terms of wearable and portable devices, depending on the specific application. Shawcity has a range of options available to buy or hire, to discuss your requirements or request a quote please contact us on 01367 899419 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.