The national Covid-19 protocol for ensuring the health and safety of employees in the workplace has been in force in France since 1 September 2020. The most important of these regulations is the compulsory use of surgical or reusable fabric masks in enclosed spaces, including shared offices, meeting rooms, open-plan workspaces, etc.
In a situation of potential aerosol transmission of the virus, a professional air purifier fitted with HEPA filters, such as the EOLIS Air Manager, makes sense as a means of reassuring the workforce as well as being an asset for HR. Whether your business employs fewer than 10 employees, up to 250 or even 5,000, or indeed whether you run a major company; whether you are a mayor or represent a local or regional authority or are Director of Services or Human Resources – NatéoSanté is there to help you manage a partial return from working from home or prepare a business continuity plan, by ensuring that purified air is supplied into your premises.
Last spring the world was turned upside down by Covid-19. The coronavirus is still circulating freely, whether or not there is a second wave this autumn. From now on, we need to learn how to live and work alongside this virus. In the open air, and wearing masks, as set out in the French national protocol relating to businesses.
Whether you are a managing director, HR director or service manager, in a private company in the tertiary or industrial sector, or a local or regional authority – or if you’re an employee, NatéoSanté is here to give you a comprehensive overview as it answers six main questions about buying a professional air purifier.
What is the scientific advice underlying the national Covid-19 protocol for French businesses, which came into force on 1 September 2020?
A national protocol aiming at ensuring the health and safety of employees to face the Covid-19 pandemic has been instaured, and is subject to regular evolutions. The last one dates from 13 November 2020. It can be consulted in its integral version, on the Ministry of Employment, Labor and Social Inclusion‘s website. It follows a series of different versions since the ending of the first lockdown in May 2020 and the second one in autumn.
The measures which were validated last summer relied on 2 recommandations made by the French Public Health Council, the first one on 23 July 2020. Circulating from 14 August 2020, the note « SARS-CoV-2: updating knowledge regarding the virus transmission by aerosols » resumes the 4 July open letter, which was submitted by 239 scientists coming from 32 countries, at the World Health Organization addressing the same topic.
The WHO published an online response to the letter in its series of frequently asked questions on the potential aerosol transmission of the coronavirus. The scientists also introduced the synonymous concept of airborne transmission.
The second recommendation from the Public Health Council, which was acted on by the French authorities, was issued on 20 August 2020 and deals with “recommendations in respect of wearing masks in communal enclosed areas”.
The question of aerosols being a third means of transmitting Covid-19, in addition to fomites (contaminated objects – hence the importance of regular handwashing and the use of hydroalcoholic gel) and droplets (social distancing, protective measures, etc), has been a key issue for researchers, who have been publishing papers and findings throughout the summer.
Thus, in the journal Le Quotidien du Médecin (21/07/2020), mindful of the onset of wintry weather, when it becomes more difficult to ensure permanent or regular aeration of workplaces in France (or overseas, given that this is a pandemic), one group of researchers wrote that “in the medium term, purifying and sterilising indoor air is clearly the solution for making enclosed spaces safer, whilst at the same time maintaining levels of thermal comfort and energy savings”.
On a more technical level, Professor José-Luis Jimenez, one of the 239 scientists who wrote to the WHO, recently wrote in Time magazine that it was time to take action: “Aerosol (sometimes referred to as “airborne”) transmission is similar to droplet transmission, except that the bits of fluid are so small that they can linger in the air for minutes to hours.
To understand the scale of aerosols, the diameter of a human hair is about 80 microns, and aerosols smaller than about 50 microns can float in the air long enough to be inhaled. SARS-CoV-2 is only 0.1 microns in diameter, so there is room for plenty of viruses in aerosols.”
What are the general recommendations to be adhered to by businesses?
Firstly, the protocol provides for masks to be worn at all times in the workplace, without, however, making this mandatory. Minister Elisabeth Borne said that masks “should be worn by everyone (…) if they are working with others in an enclosed space”.
This applies to shared offices, meeting rooms, open-plan offices, cloakrooms and communal spaces where people come into contact with each other such as reception areas… as well as third places, shared workspaces and co-working centres.
Exceptions are permitted to allow periods of breathing without a face covering (wearing a mask all the time leads to breathing in stale air), depending on whether the business is in a green, orange or red zone. These three colours refer to data from Public Health France for each department in France according to the tests carried out, the number of new cases and the total number of confirmed cases.
In green zones, five criteria must be met:
- Good ventilation and/or aeration of the workspace concerned
- Adequate air filtration
- Glass or plexiglass protective screens between work stations
- Availability of visors
- Access to a company Covid-19 representative who can assess and deal with any symptoms an employee might experience
Two additional criteria apply in orange zones:
- Availability of very spacious premises
- High air extraction rates
And, lastly, one further criterion is added in red zones:
- Each employee must have access to a space of at least 4 m2 where they can take a break individually, without wearing a mask, at certain times of the day, preferably when the open-plan workspace or office is partially emptied of its occupants.
Exceptions can be made for well-ventilated workshops or garages, for opera singers (by decree) or for television studios.
The coronavirus map of France changes according to the statistics, including the well-known reproduction rate or R number, in other words the estimated average number of people over the previous 7 days infected by one carrier.
What is the potential role of an EOLIS Air Manager professional indoor air purifier in the workplace in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic?
The new restrictions, brought in because of the current health situation, focus the attention on the question of how the coronavirus can spread in the open air, and the issue of air purification and indoor air quality.
This is why investing in a professional or medical HEPA air purifier, such as the French made EOLIS Air Manager, developed by NatéoSanté, rather than purchasing a simple domestic device, can be seen as an asset for HR in that it will make the workforce feel safer in terms of health.
This makes the case for any business, local authority or association wishing to demonstrate its ability to do everything in its power to protect the workforce from the potential risks of airborne transmission of the virus. With the additional bonus of combating all kinds of pollutant particles, pollens and even unpleasant odours.
How does the EOLIS Air Manager reduce airborne transmission of viruses?
Professional air purifiers from NatéoSanté owe their highly effective performance to a unique combination of technologies. More specifically, the EOLIS Air Manager boasts:
- A virucidal biocidal pre-filter with EN1276 EN14675 EN14476 certification
- An EN1822-4 certified HEPA medical filter, which is effective in up to 99.97% of cases of coronaviruses sized between ~120-150 nm, such as Covid-19. The filters, which are all made in France, all have an individual airtightness certificate. They are manually tested by NatéoSanté and given a serial number to ensure traceability.
Moreover, the air purifier also boasts a patented feature that measures and displays filter wear and tear in real time to ensure optimum filtration.
- OSRAM PURITEC® HNS® germicidal and virucidal UV-C lamps, as used in hospitals. Their performance is guaranteed stable throughout their working life
- Our exclusive Controlled Active Oxygen® technology, (on EOLIS Air Manager 600S and 1200S) completes the filter combination, strengthening its virucidal action
What benefits can be expected for businesses and their employees when they invest in one or more professional air purifiers?
In France, Covid-19 resulted in a 13.8% drop in GDP in the 2nd quarter of 2020. The summer holiday offered a welcome break, with September 2020 being seen as the time when economic activity would be resumed.
Particularly in as much as the financial aid packages and support measures, such as funding short-time working, were restricted to sectors that were still unable to resume their activity. The priority for the authorities in France, Europe and across the world (India has lifted some restrictions although the epidemic is not yet under control) was to avoid another total lockdown.
For a business of any size (from the smallest to the very largest), and for local and regional authorities, purchasing one or more professional air purifiers is a good long-term investment in terms of:
- Lessening the impact of the fear of catching the virus at work and thereby reducing absenteeism, and introducing flexibility into remote working, which can lead to employees feeling isolated as well as affecting productivity and creativity – both of which are boosted by group working and discussions with colleagues.
- Reducing the fear employees may have of potentially bringing the virus into their homes, etc.
- From an HR standpoint, when employers – mindful of these concerns – take steps to reassure staff and prevent, by all means possible, exposure to health risks, the investment is proof of their going the extra mile at a time when work/life balance and corporate social responsibility are crucial to an employer’s reputation
What can NatéoSanté do to help any professional organisation with its business continuity strategy?
NatéoSanté has a wealth of experience and expertise and can help you with:
- Drawing up a tailor-made continuity plan to ensure both the company’s survival and the safety of your employees
- Introducing good working practices so that the whole workforce is aware of the added protection the air purifiers give them and feels comfortable about their return-to-work conditions
Added value from NatéoSanté: we can support managing directors, HR directors and service managers, in private companies in the tertiary or industrial sector, and in local and regional authorities, in drawing up and implementing a return-to-work plan for the welfare of employees and to protect management with respect to social risks.