New guidance aims to revolutionise building air quality


16 April 2024
Graeme Fox of BESA

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has launched a new specification for ventilation hygiene as part of its ongoing efforts to minimise the risk posed by contaminated indoor air to human health and well-being.

It has also updated two of its air hygiene training courses to ensure delivery against the new specification and improve safety standards in buildings. The courses are designed so that contractors can advise their clients about ventilation cleanliness to help them meet health & safety obligations and comply with increasingly stringent legislation.

BESA said that TR19 Air (Specification for internal cleanliness and hygiene management of ventilation systems) was designed to address an “urgent need for better cleaning and maintenance of ventilation ducting”. This has been highlighted by healthcare professionals as vital for reducing building occupants’ exposure to harmful airborne particulates and pollutants.

The Covid-19 pandemic also raised awareness of the role of effective ventilation in reducing the spread of disease in indoor spaces and prompted a dramatic rise in the level of air quality monitoring.  

“Employers and building managers have an obligation under health & safety legislation to ensure the indoor environment is safe and does not pose a risk to the health and well-being of workers and visitors,” said BESA Technical Director Graeme Fox.

“Cleaning ventilation ductwork has often been considered one of those ‘out of sight, out of mind’ tasks that can be postponed or avoided entirely to reduce cost, but the pandemic proved just how risky that strategy is.

“This new specification is a big step towards revolutionising air quality in buildings and it will help building owners and managers meet their obligations and remain compliant with legislation.”

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The new TR19 Air Hygiene Operative course will provide training on cleaning ventilation systems to the required standards with operatives having to complete both theory and practical tests.

The second course, Air Hygiene Technician, is for those who, as well as cleaning, must also be able to produce risk assessments/method statements (RAMS); install access panels, and inspect, test and report on the cleanliness of the system.

TR19 Air is the latest update to a specification first developed by BESA in 1991. With this new document, BESA is responding to growing demand for another targeted specification focused on the specific cleaning requirements for air ducts. TR19 Air is also part of a wider campaign to improve indoor air quality (IAQ) in buildings and address the threats posed to human health by airborne pathogens and particulate matter.

BESA also pointed out that insurance providers were taking a keen interest in this area and adjusting their premiums to reflect the level of risk created by poor building management.

TR19 Air costs £75 for BESA members and £150 for non-members. Anyone booking onto one of the training courses will also receive a free copy. TR19 Air can be downloaded from the BESA website and details of the training courses can be found here.