What is the definition of a well-ventilated area?

Q&A

What is the definition of a well-ventilated area?

WorkplaceOHS experts regularly answer your questions on OHS issues you face day-to-day in the workplace. This week our experts discuss the definition of a well-ventilated area in relation to working with chemical substances.

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WorkplaceOHS experts regularly answer your questions on OHS issues you face day-to-day in the workplace. This week our experts discuss the definition of a well-ventilated area in relation to working with chemical substances.
 
 
The issue:
 
In case of application of chemical substance, how would you describe a well-ventilated area — under a condition that there is no occupational exposure standard for that particular chemical substance?
 
The answer:

There is no formal legislative definition of a 'well-ventilated area'. There is some indirect help in legislation — for example, under the NSW Occupational Health and Safety Regulation 2001. In clause 50, the definitions provided for atmosphere are:
atmospheric contaminant means:
(a) a hazardous substance that occurs in the form of a fume, mist, gas, dust or vapour, or
(b) an asphyxiant, or
(c) nuisance dust,
to which persons may be exposed in the working environment.
 
inspirable dust means those airborne particles of dust that can be taken in through the nose or mouth during breathing.
 
respirable fibre means a fibrous particle with a diameter of less than 3 micrometres and a length of greater than 5 micrometres, with a length to width ratio of greater than 3:1, that can reach the deepest part of a lung.
 
safe oxygen level means a minimum oxygen content in air of 19.5% by volume under normal atmospheric pressure and a maximum oxygen content in air of 23.5% by volume under normal atmospheric pressure.
 
synthetic mineral fibre means any manufactured mineral fibre, including mineral woolrock (rockwool and slagwool), glasswool (including superfine glassfibre) and ceramic fibres.
 
synthetic mineral fibre dust means dust arising from a synthetic mineral fibre.
 
TWA (time-weighted average) means the average airborne concentration of a particular substance when calculated over a normal 8-hour working day for a 5-day working week.
 
Australian Standard
 
A risk assessment should be completed on the use of the substance taking into consideration the definitions provided above. Guidance information can also be obtained from AS/NZS 1668 — The Use of Ventilation and Air Conditioning in Buildings.
 
 
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