Last reviewed 21 July 2021

Respondents to a survey carried out by the Safety and Health Engineering Partnership (SHEP) have overwhelmingly (84%) said the Covid pandemic has made them more aware of how virus, bacteria and other particles are transmitted through the air, and 70% advised that Covid has made them more aware of the dangers of airborne particles.

The findings confirm that Covid has highlighted for many businesses the risks posed by exposure to airborne particles to human health, including those posed by dust, oil, mist, smoke, fumes and other hazardous chemicals.

Much exposure to airborne particles can be effectively managed with appropriate control measures, for example:

  • using alternative techniques or processes

  • enclosing processes

  • using local exhaust ventilation (LEV)

  • using respiratory protective equipment (RPE) and personal protective equipment (PPE)

  • providing good general ventilation.

The survey distributed via the SHEP member network had 63 respondents. Key findings found:

  • Covid has resulted in 36.5% of respondents stating that they have reassessed their risk assessments in relation to airborne particles other than Covid

  • 84% are confident their employer is using sufficient control measures to protect employees from exposure to all airborne particles, not just Covid

  • 27% don’t provide training on using control measure

  • 19% did not know that face coverings are not classed as PPE

  • 52% do not monitor air quality in their workplace

  • 21% admitted that their LEV systems are tested less than once every 14 months.

The SHEP is a collaboration between a number of engineering focused trade associations, with support from the HSE.