How is the air quality in your business? It better be good or you risk being sued

- February 15, 2022 3 MIN READ

As customers and employees begin to return to businesses around Australia, COVID-19 has thrown a new spanner in the works, with an expert warning that businesses are now at risk of being sued if they don’t provide adequate ventilation.

Australian security expert, Scott Cairns, CEO of Secure Your World, explains that businesses are now at risk of litigation if they do not have adequate air quality practices in place to prevent the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

“Just as businesses were starting to get back on their feet, they’ve been dealt yet another blow. However, in this period of COVID, businesses should take note that it is also for their own personal safety to ensure they improve the quality of air ventilation in their premises to limit the spread of respiratory diseases,” Cairns said.

Air quality is your responsibility

Cairns suggests that businesses now have a responsibility to ensure the air quality at their premises is at a safe level to avoid transmissions. He says ensuring good air quality is essential as long as the Omicron strain is circulating within the community.

“This means that maintaining good air quality in indoor venues should be a top priority. COVID can spread and infect people when an infected person unknowingly disperses droplets or aerosols containing the virus,” Cairns explains.

“If you think about it logically, it’s easy to understand. Crowding a lot of people into a small space is never a good idea in the first place. This is why density limits have been introduced to allow fewer people into any given space. And it’s also why good airflow is required to minimise the build up of infectious aerosols in indoor venues,” he adds.

Using an air quality monitor

Cairns suggests business owners purchase an indoor air quality monitoring device. These work by measuring the level of carbon dioxide in the air and can be used as an indication of how well a place is ventilated.

“As we breathe out, we exhale carbon dioxide. So if a particular venue does not have good airflow, the amount of carbon dioxide in the air can build up,” Cairns outlined.

“In the case of these air monitors, carbon dioxide levels can be a gauge as to how well the air is circulating in a space, and how likely it is for potentially allowing the spread of COVID. If there isn’t good air flow and an infected person is present, you are more likely to get infected than if the place were well ventilated.”

Cairns says a simple device like this could save people from being infected.

“And now, it could even save you from a law suit from a disgruntled patron!” he adds.

Businesses need to put safety first

With the pandemic entering its third year, Cairns says business owners need to resist the urge to be complacent. Especially as caution fatigue increases and people become desensitised to the risk of infection.

“The brain copes with prolonged fear and stress by lowering its stress response. The brain starts to evaluate whether a stressful situation is real or perceived. It can be a chore to keep wearing masks and sanitising everything, because we have normalised COVID. This is a huge risk, especially as COVID keeps mutating,” explains Cairns.

“Now is not the time to relax the safety practices that were so constantly at the forefront of our thoughts in the past two years. As we return to our daily routines and habits, it’s more vital than ever that everyone remembers to maintain high levels of hygiene and cleanliness. Masks should be worn indoors and air ventilation must be a top priority,” Cairns says.

Getting back on track

In order to get back to vigilance, Cairns suggests business owners consider the safety of others first, and always have public health guidelines at top of mind.

“If you keep in mind the risk that you might be creating for others, you are more likely to stay committed to keeping yourself safe, too,” Cairns said.

“I strongly recommend businesses to follow government and health guidelines which have been drawn up with public safety in mind. Following these rules will give you the best shot at making it through this new curveball of the pandemic.

“It’s disappointing that patrons would consider legal action against businesses over such matters – after all, it’s been such a hard couple of years. If you are a business owner, it’s important that you take steps to safeguard yourself against potential lawsuits. Simply getting a carbon dioxide monitor is a cheap and easy way for you to get a little extra peace of mind.

“A lot of consumers are carrying these monitors around with them when visiting indoor venues. Business owners need to be on the front foot and ensure they are managing air quality – because their customers or potential litigants are,” Cairns concludes.

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