Home office, distance, mandatory face masks. Employers are required to implement COVID19 occupational health and safety standards for their workforce no later than the federal-state decision at the end of January 2021. The problem: For many occupational groups, working in a home office is not possible, and especially in small businesses, there is often simply not enough space to implement distance regulations. Expanding or retrofitting the business is too expensive or too complex, such as installing a ventilation and air-conditioning system (AHU). So what to do? Small businesses are faced with an almost insoluble task in rows: the business must continue, the employees must be protected at all costs.
Study shows: The smaller the operation, the fewer protective measures
For a study conducted by the German government together with the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) in the fall of 2020, more than 1,500 companies were examined with regard to their implementation of corona protection measures. The results can be summarized as follows: Even though as many as 80 percent of the companies had introduced special rules on occupational health and safety, these varied greatly in terms of quantity and quality. In addition: The smaller the company, the fewer the measures. While micro-enterprises implemented only seven measures on average, companies with 250 or more employees implemented an average of eleven. Only 19 and 40 percent of micro and small companies were able or willing to implement home office measures, in contrast to almost 90 percent of large companies.
The solution: air purifiers instead of air conditioning and ventilation systems
The result is sobering with regard to the inspection of air-conditioning and ventilation systems: this is classified as not relevant by a total of 60 percent of the companies. According to the IAB, this is roughly equivalent to the proportion of companies in Germany that do not have air conditioning and ventilation systems. Twenty percent had inspected or upgraded their systems, while the remaining 20 percent had not. The reasons for this were not surveyed in the study. However, it can be surmised that a complete new construction of a ventilation and air-conditioning system presents financial hurdles, and not just for small businesses. If necessary, free ventilation was considered sufficient. The solution for this gap: Powerful professional air purifiers make the implementation of infection control possible even for employees in micro and small businesses. Especially where flexible working hours, home office and equalization of production and work sites are not organizationally possible.