Maintenance of Office Ventilation Ductwork - TM26 2000


The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 – require that effective provision should be made to ensure that every enclosed workplace is ventilated by a sufficient quantity of fresh or purified air. Where this ventilation is provided by mechanical means, the regulation require those mechanical ventilation systems to be maintained (including cleaned as appropriate) in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair. Failure to carry out these duties is a breach of the regulations.

The Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) Regulation 6 – states the following:

“Mechanical Ventilation Systems, including air conditioning systems must be regularly tested and cleaned to ensure that they do not contain anything which may contaminate the air”. Although this in itself is not law, failure to comply with the Approved Code of Practice could result in prosecution unless it can be proven that the risk has been complied with in some way or another.

Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 – lays down that the employers or person concerned with the premises owe the “common duty of care” both to the employers and others who may use or visit the premises. They are required to exercise this duty “so far is reasonably practicable”.

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations. Statutory Instrument No 1657, 1994 – This requires an employer to make a formal assessment of health risk from hazardous substances, which includes human pathogens or any dusts present in substantial quantities in the air. Regulation 7 (1) requires the employer to prevent exposure of his employees to substances hazardous to health, or where this is not practicable, to ensure that any exposure is adequately controlled.

The Occupiers’ Liability Act 1984 – impose a duty of care on an occupier of premises to prevent (so far is reasonable practicable) risk to others of injury, which includes any disease and impairment of physical or mental condition

BS5588 Fire Precautions in the Design and Construction of Buildings P.9 (1989)

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) (1992) states that where ventilation is provided by mechanical means the regulations stipulate that such systems are to be maintained (including appropriate cleaning) in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) order 2005 which came into force in April 2006 puts a requirement on a company identifying a “responsible person” to look at fire risk assessment and address any risks identified. It’s aim is the prevention of fire occurring in the first place. Enforcement powers rest with the fire brigades and departments.

Benefits of maintaining & cleaning, systems:

  1. Staff Efficiency – In extreme cases where “Sick Building Syndrome” has been experienced, there should be a noticeable drop of staff absenteeism and productivity will increase.
  1. Fire Safety – By reducing the contamination in the ducting, the combustion load of fire safety is greatly enhanced.
  1. Legal compliance
  1. Image – It will improve the environmental image of the company.
  1. Costs – There is a potential to reduce the running costs due to reduction in electrical loading and in certain instances fuel consumption. Mechanical Efficiency – Is increased and a reduction in airborne dusts can help to protect sensitive equipment.