Friday, January 13, 2017

Ventilation hygiene takes centre stage

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), which developed the industry’s primary standard for ventilation hygiene (TR19) almost 20 years ago, has now launched a suite of training courses to support the standard. This will be backed up by an accreditation scheme due for launch in early 2017.

The need to provide a safe working environment for staff; reduce fire risks; and avoid contamination of food preparation areas have rocketed ductwork and kitchen extract cleaning to the top of the agenda for building owners.

All employers are subject to health & safety at work legislation, which requires them to maintain conditions in occupied spaces that protect the well-being of their staff. Asthma and other respiratory conditions are on the rise in the UK and bacterial spores in ductwork have been linked to outbreaks of MRSA and other serious infections in hospitals and clinics.

Building owners also face rising costs and more stringent conditions imposed on them by insurers concerned about fires being spread through poorly maintained ventilation systems.

Around a quarter of the 24,000 accidental fires in UK non-domestic buildings each year are caused by cooking appliances. Fires are an occupational hazard in commercial kitchens, but their impact is made far worse by the rapid spread of the fire through poorly maintained grease extract systems and ductwork. If grease deposits in uncleaned ductwork are ignited they will spread the fire rapidly to other parts of the building.

Many insurance companies now make it a condition of cover that building managers have a planned maintenance strategy in place and, before paying out following a fire, they will insist on seeing evidence that ductwork cleaning had been carried out.

The need to keep food preparation areas free of contamination is another increasingly important area of potential reputational risk and depends on air systems being kept clear of airborne contaminants.

Growing understanding and awareness of all these issues among building owners and managers is driving market growth for ventilation hygiene companies. These specialists have a crucial dual role to play in tackling the environmental health issue of poor indoor air; while simultaneously reducing fire risk.

Since it was first developed in 1998 by BESA, TR19 has been widely accepted by the building engineering services sector and British insurers as the standard to which ventilation systems should be cleaned. The guiding principle of TR19 is that a defined, measurable level of cleanliness should be achieved to improve safety and comfort in buildings.

It was updated and expanded two years’ ago to complement the British and European Standard BS EN 15780: ‘Ventilation for Buildings – Ductwork – Cleanliness of Ventilation Systems’, which highlights the important role ventilation hygiene plays in maintaining healthy indoor conditions for building occupants.

TR19 exceeds the requirements of the Standard in most respects and is a more comprehensive vehicle for delivering a total ventilation hygiene solution. It also includes kitchen grease extract systems, which are not yet covered in BS15780.

TR19 also helps building owners satisfy their obligations under the Regulatory Reform (fire safety) Order 2005 and stay on the right side of fire officers who have the power to close down their building; impose fines of up to £10,000 and/or a two-year prison sentence for the designated responsible person.

The research used to prepare the revised TR19 provided clear evidence of why ventilation needs to be cleaned and revealed the link between residual or impacted dust and microbial activity that contaminates indoor air with harmful microorganisms. It also created detailed guidance for commercial kitchen operators on how frequently they should have their grease extract systems cleaned.

The training scheme developed by BESA supports TR19 and seeks to ensure high standards throughout the sector by promoting the high level of technical competence needed to ensure ventilation cleaning meets legal requirements. 

The training is also designed to give clients the peace of mind that comes from employing a verifiably competent specialist ventilation hygiene contractor so they can keep their staff safe; satisfy the increasing demands of insurers; and protect their corporate reputation.

“Ventilation hygiene is an area of real strategic importance for BESA and the industry at large,” said the Association’s technical director Tim Rook. “We are extremely fortunate to be able to draw on the expertise of the dedicated volunteers in our enthusiastic Ventilation Hygiene group, who were responsible for the creation of TR19 in the first place.

“Their market is already enjoying healthy growth as a result of increased awareness among building owners of the crucial health and safety role played by hygiene specialists. However, we also have to guard against is the inevitable ‘cowboy’ element, who seek to undercut bona fide firms and fail to invest in the training and equipment needed to provide a professional and, therefore, safe service.

“The training courses and subsequent accreditation provided by BESA will allow properly professional ventilation hygiene firms to prove their competence and impress on clients the importance of having this work done to the highest standards,” added Mr Rook.

Visit our ventilation hygiene training courses page to find out more about the range of courses on offer.

Share this post