Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and COVID-19

March 26, 2020

AMS Installation & Maintenance Solutions response to the Coronavirus Pandemic

AMS has adhered to our customers’ requests and the direction of the Federal and State governments in moving to protect both our customers, the public and our employees through the implementation of revised work practices and offering to alter HVAC system strategies within the mechanical services in buildings we are maintaining.

AMS Work Practices / Business Continuity Plan

  • All AMS office staff and field personnel will minimise physical contact and set barriers placed between office and field personnel to reduce the risk of contamination.

  • All AMS staff will be issued with disposable masks to be used in the workplace where risk is identified.

  • All AMS staff will be issued with disposable coveralls to be used in the workplace where risk is identified.

  • All the standard PPE is provided to prevent eyes and hands coming into contact with surfaces and others.

  • All AMS staff will be issued with hand gel in containers to be used as required and recommended.

  • All AMS personnel are instructed to keep at least 1.5metres distance from others where possible.

  • AMS labour coordination is being undertaken in an alternative location.

  • AMS have segregated service and installation staff into teams that will be fixed and not be in physical contact with each other.

  • All AMS office staff have been given a directive to work from home as much as possible to reduce the risk of contamination.

  • All AMS staff will utilise both phones and email to communicate with other personnel and subcontractors.

  • Visitors and couriers will be encouraged to limit physical contact with all AMS personnel.

  • All AMS personnel are instructed to use gloves or protective hand cover when refuelling motor vehicles.

  • All AMS apprentices will be assigned to a service group and will not be shared between the individual groups.

  • All AMS internal meetings are to be conducted electronically and not in person.

Self-Reporting & Self-Screening

  • Any AMS employee who have travelled outside Australia in the last 14 days or has had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 will advise management immediately and self-quarantine for the required time period.

  • Any AMS employee who have not been outside Australia or had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, but are presenting with symptoms which include fever, coughing, sore throat, fatigue and shortness of breath will advise management and will be asked to stay home until the symptoms clear.

  • Complete the COVID-19 Self-Screening Questionnaire.

  • All AMS employee who are or have been in quarantine, or have been asked to go in quarantine, will not be able to return to work until a medical clearance is presented to indicate they have been cleared of COVID-19 or any  cold and flu-like symptoms.

HVAC-recommended Preventative Maintenance Procedures & Operational Strategy of HVAC Systems

Heating Ventilating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems exist in many different forms however a typical HVAC system commonly found in commercial and institutional buildings, is basically a re-circulating system.  This is a system that moves are from a space, sends it back to the plant where it is filtered, and a portion of outside air added continually whilst a similar portion is exhausted. It is then either heated or cooled using a finned coil within the system that is similar to a motor vehicle radiator. Air is then moved around the system using fans and then returned to the air-conditioned space. The outside air rate can be varied in many systems using the Building Management Control System (“BMS”).

 

The journey that a COVID-19 virus droplet would experience to arrive back in an occupied space would typically include extended ducted air pathways, multiple changes in direction and air velocity, and multiple impacting surfaces including air filters, fans, dampers and grilles. There is a good likelihood that a particle would impact, adhere to and dry on a surface.

 

Whilst published research on healthcare ventilation systems and scenarios suggests that the transmission of droplets containing viral material is theoretically possible in these situations, it is thought to be less likely in a well-designed and properly maintained typical HVAC system in a public setting. View the full article.

We recommend that large central plant air conditioning systems engage the following procedures to prevent and reduce the risk:

  • Recommission fresh air minimum flows are checked and confirm that they meet AS1668.2 Part 2

  • Inspect and replace filtration with clean best-quality filtration meeting both AS1132 with a high dust holding capacity & AS1324

  • Increase the fresh air quantities beyond minimum requirements.

  • Night purge of the conditioned space – venting the conditioned space with fresh outside air during times when the building is unoccupied.

  • Applying de-fogging agents such as Tea Tree Oil under pressure within supply air duct and occupied space.

  • Cleaning Cooling/Heating coils within the building air conditioning with a disinfecting agent on a regular basis (frequency-based on location and situation).

  • Installation of UV filtration within the ductwork to ensure coils and duct are maintained in a sanitised clean condition.

We recommend that large commercial package and split system air conditioning systems engage the following procedures to prevent and reduce the risk:

  • Recommission fresh air minimum flows are checked and confirm that they meet AS1668.2 Part 2

  • Inspect and replace filtration with clean best-quality filtration meeting both AS1132 with a high dust holding capacity & AS1324

  • Increase the fresh air quantities beyond minimum requirements.​

  • Cleaning Cooling/Heating coils within the building air conditioning with a disinfecting agent on a regular basis (frequency-based on location and situation).

  • Maintain your regular maintenance inspections and supplement with additional cleaning of the equipment