Top 3 UVC Safety Tips - Steril-Aire

In honor of UV Safety Month, which typically discusses topics such as sunscreen, sunglasses and sun hats, it is also vital to adhere to UVC safety strategies when dealing with germicidal UVC emitters. Unlike sunlight and other bright lights, squinting or sunscreen doesn’t protect you from the after-effects of UVC exposure. Typically, not seen immediately, but UVC exposure can be seen hours later by “sunburn”, itchy/watery eyes or if extended, direct exposure can also cause temporary damage to the cornea.  Steril-Aire UVC is SAFE when the proper strategies are in place and followed as directed. Below, we offer the Top 3 UVC safety strategies to impede the possibility of UVC exposure:

  1. Switches & Viewports:
    1. Interlock Switches: Steril-Aire considers UVC system interlock switches as the best, manual way to prevent accidental UVC exposure. Interlock switches are designed to automatically kill the power to the AHU & UVC emitters once the compartment door is opened, thus preventing any opportunity for danger or exposure.
    2. Manual ON/OFF Switches: Not as efficient as an Interlock switch, but sometimes is needed based on the application. A simple solution to mitigate the opportunity for exposure but will require an additional measure to kill the power. Should be properly labeled – “UVC System ON/OFF Switch”
    3. Viewports: Steril-Aire AHU Viewports provide the ability to view the interior of air handling units (AHUs) without the need to open access panels/doors or disconnecting circuits. The Viewports allow frequent inspection of the UVC Emitters.
  2. UVC Emitter Monitoring Systems
    1. UVC Controller II/Watch Dog: Electrical add-on solutions provide insight of any change in electrical current, lamp failure, lamp life countdown, on/off status, amp draw, and alerts when the emitters need attention or changeout. These units can also be connected and relay information to a building management system (BMS).
    2. UVC Smart-Vu: This innovative solution can be applied to all Steril-Aire HVAC solutions as a way to expertly monitor, maintain your emitters and improve UVC safety.  The accompanying IoT dashboard will provide insight & reporting into emitter ON/OFF status, UVC intensity, pathogen disinfection dosage, remaining emitter life, other component alerts, overall system health and more.
  3. Proper Warning Labels & Safety Training Program
    1. All air handling units that have UVC systems installed should have proper warning labels that are easily visible to all maintenance personnel. Steril-Aire offers warning labels with each order as well as maintenance schedule labels for reference.
    2. A suitable Safety Training Program should be provided to all members of the staff to insure the correct UVC safety strategies are understood and precisely acted upon. The program should include an accurate definition of UV radiation, biological hazards of UV radiation, sources of UV radiation in the workplace, workplace safety measures, administrative practices and a working knowledge of application appropriate Steril-Aire products.

BONUS – Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): If it is absolutely necessary to enter the AHU while UVC is powered ON, proper personal protective equipment should be worn, including UV safety goggles, UV face shields, long-sleeved, tightly woven clothing that covers much of the body, and gloves.

These UVC safety strategies will help protect members of the service staff from accidental UVC exposure while maintaining the effectiveness of UVC to disinfect pathogens from the HVAC system and improve energy savings.