New DOLE order underscores importance of proper ventilation amid pandemic

Published March 4, 2021, 5:23 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Here’s one for the “new normal policies” folder.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has issued new guidelines on the proper ventilation of workplaces and public transportation to prevent and control the spread of the dreaded coronavirus disease (COVID-19).


Signed by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on March 3, Department Order (DO) 224-21 spells out fresh rules that private establishments and public transport stakeholders must observe in this regard.

“This (sic) guidelines shall cover all commercial and industrial establishments, projects, sites, and all other places, where work is being undertaken indoors. This shall not however, cover healthcare facilities requiring special considerations in the control of COVID-19,” read the 10-page DO.

The set of guidelines include the installation and utilization of exhaust fans in indoor workplaces, restrooms and water closets; ventilation in air, rail, land, and sea transport; and other measures to improve and maintain the quality of air in the workplace and public transportation.

“Adequate ventilation should be strictly enforced inside the workplace,” the order states, as properly maintained ventilation within a building and other indoor workplaces eliminate contaminated air and reduce the risks of exposure to potentially virus-contaminated air.

For non-air-conditioned spaces, the guidelines recommend maximizing natural ventilation through the use of doors, windows, and other openings. If natural ventilation is not feasible or inadequate, mechanical ventilation shall be provided.

For air-conditioned spaces and Heating, Ventilation, and Air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, the outdoor air supply should conform to the recommended breathing zone ventilation rates for air dilution and comfort control.

The said ventilation system is also recommended to be utilized for at least 30 minutes before and after spaces are occupied.

The DOLE directive also recommended strategies for restrooms and water closets. This includes making sure that exhaust fans in restroom facilities are functional and operating at full capacity when the building is occupied.

When toilets/ water closets are used, it is advised to close the toilet bowl seat lid before flushing, if available, to minimize the release of droplets into the air due to flushing, the DO stated.

Bello said proper ventilation in the workplace is as important as the observation of minimum public health standards inside workplaces and public transport.