Pratley & Partners

Workplace Ventilation Requirements for Employers

Thursday, 4 May 2017


Employers are obliged by law to comply with workplace ventilation requirements. This is to ensure staff don’t fall victim to health problems caused by unclean air in confined spaces.

Without adequate ventilation in place, business owners may not only be fined but also face criminal prosecution as well. To ensure your ventilation system meets the necessary standards, employers should note the following legal requirements and installation advice.

Legal Requirements

The ‘Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations Act of 1992’ states that every company premises in the UK should supply fresh or purified air into the workplace on an ongoing basis. Oxygen particles need to be drawn from a clean air source to replace carbon dioxide, allowing employees to breathe more easily.

The incoming air has to be uncontaminated from flues, chimneys or similar outlets, as well as being circulated through all rooms where staff work. For some industrial sites with increased sources of dust, fumes or vapours, a more intensified form of ventilation may be necessary.

There may be further requirements depending on the type of building in question. For example, rooms located in the vicinity of toilets, smoking areas or kitchens may need additional air flow so lingering smells are alleviated.

The regulations also cover temperature control, meaning the workplace shouldn’t be too hot or too cold. Although this is a more subjective ruling, guidelines suggest temperatures of around 16°C for offices, with labour-intensive environments kept to at least 13°C.

Further Responsibilities

There’s also the 1999 Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Act to consider, stating that employees shouldn’t be subject to harmful chemical or gas substances. Asbestos, lead and radioactive substances have their own specific regulations which you should already be aware of.

With mechanised ventilation, such as automatic or manual window controls, regular checks are required to ensure a clean air supply is sustained. For this reason, it is recommended that you use a professional ventilation company who offer a maintenance package as part of their service.

Methods of Ventilation

For some offices and retail outlets, windows and shop doors may keep the premises sufficiently ventilated throughout the working day. However, a natural ventilation strategy from a specialist company may still be needed to comply with legal responsibilities.

Many commercial buildings don’t have the fortune of this natural ventilation. This is where mechanised systems are needed so clean air particles can be pumped into the room, recycling stale oxygen in the process.

Benefits of Ventilation

In some workplaces, employees are cramped together for hours at a time. Without sufficient ventilation, a number of health problems can arise – specifically the symptoms of Sick Building Syndrome (SBS), such as headaches, tiredness, skin irritation and even respiratory problems in extreme cases.

This causes a lack of productivity, not only through lethargic conduct but also in taken sick days. Staff fatigue caused by constant ‘bad’ air also increases the chance of accidents occurring, something you may be held to account for.

In order to comply with your legal responsibilities as an employer in the UK, adequate ventilation is required. There are various other advantages of doing so, not least ensuring your staff remain fit, healthy and productive. It’s recommended that you contact a professional ventilation specialist for further advice.

For more information or advice, get in touch with us today on 01277 633933 or at

As well as adequate ventilation systems, your employees should also be able to effectively leave the building during a fire. Check out our 7 Tips to an Effective Fire Drill in Your Office.



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