Reducing the risk of transmission through cleaning and building ventilation

We are following the latest Government and UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidelines, and drawing on the latest research, to ensure that our buildings are clean and properly ventilated.

Support services during the national lockdown

Please note that during the national lockdown our support services will be similar to those offered during UCL’s closure periods due to the limited availability of support staff, particularly cleaning, maintenance and security colleagues.


We have implemented an enhanced cleaning regime to help reduce the risk of transmission on campus. Our approach – which is in line with guidance from the UK Government and the HSE – is consistent with the approach of other HE institutions.

Enhanced cleaning protocol 

All areas are now cleaned with Oxivir, an accelerated hydrogen peroxide cleaning agent used by NHS in clinical settings. 

All areas are cleaned between 5am and 8am each morning, except those with restricted access. This includes the cleaning of: 

  • all hard and carpeted floors, 
  • surfaces (up to 2 metres), 
  • all touch points, 
  • lifts, 
  • staircases, 
  • entrances, 
  • receptions, 
  • toilets, 
  • kitchens, 
  • work surfaces (if clear of work), 
  • and hand wash sinks within labs (other areas within labs are cleaned only if notified via the safe to clean process).

We are carrying out a second daytime clean of high touch point areas as advised by Government  and HSE guidance. This includes refreshing toilets, kitchens and other communal spaces as well as wiping surfaces where required.

Enhanced provision of disinfectant wipes and hand sanitiser

On top of these measures we are ensuring that additional disinfectant wipes and hand sanitiser is available in all high use areas. Staff and students are encouraged to continue to regularly wash their hands and to wipe down work and study areas before use. We are also providing hand sanitiser and surface wipes to over 400 teaching spaces to assist personal COVID hygiene security.

Cleaning concerns or issues

  • Lab and workshop staff remain responsible for cleaning their own workbenches and equipment and should contact Safety Services for further advice. 
  • For guidance on what to do in the case of a potential case of coronavirus please refer to the responding to potential coronavirus cases at UCL page.
  • Please continue to report any issues related to cleaning through the Estates Help Desk.


The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) state that a good supply of outdoor air can help reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of spreading coronavirus. The latest research indicates that the risk of airborne transmission of coronavirus depends upon the number and spacing of people in an enclosed space, what they are doing, for how long and how well the space is ventilated. This risk is further reduced by the use of face coverings, increasing the movement of air, and regular surface cleaning. 

In the process of carrying out tailored risk assessments of all areas of campus we are ensuring that all spaces are properly ventilated as well as putting in place a range of measures to help reduce the risk of transmission including reducing the number of people onsite, introducing a new face covering policy, and implementing social distancing guidelines. 

How we are ensuring an adequate supply of fresh air across campus

The Estates team is regularly reviewing and verifying that all mechanical ventilation systems are running optimally. They will also make sure that rooms without mechanical ventilation are suitable to be used and have an adequate supply of fresh air.

In rooms with mechanical ventilation, we are setting the systems to run at their optimum setting with as much fresh air provided as possible and we are turning off recirculation modes where appropriate. We are also turning on the systems earlier in the morning and leaving them on later in the evening. In spaces without mechanical ventilation, we will ensure a fresh supply of air by leaving windows and doors open where appropriate. As a result, these spaces may be cooler in winter months and staff and students may wish to wear warmer clothing. 

We are also reducing the amount of people in each space which means the ventilation levels per-person will be increased – a 75% reduction in occupancy means a four-fold increase in fresh-air per person. And we are encouraging, or in some space requiring, the use of face coverings which will significantly cut down on the source of particle generation and lower the risk of airborne infection.

Some buildings and spaces will be better ventilated than others such as basement areas, store rooms and enclosed rooms within rooms. However, we are individually risk-assessing every room and study space. Where a risk is identified we will put in place further measures such as:

  • reducing the time people spend in these spaces;
  • increasing social distancing;
  • limiting certain deep breathing activities such as singing and exercising;
  • increasing the number of ventilation openings;
  • adjusting ventilation systems;
  • and providing additional fans.
Which Health and Safety and Government guidelines are UCL following to ensure campus is properly ventilated?

The measures we are putting in place are in line with the guidance set by the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) who are the regulator of work-place Health and Safety. The measures outlines about follow their advice around increasing the supply of fresh air where possible improving the circulation of outside air, and preventing pockets of stagnant air in occupied spaces. 

Our building opening process and the measures outlined above are also in line with the UK Government advice to check if we need to service or adjust ventilation systems, and their advice that positive pressure systems and extractors of the kind usually found in laboratory spaces can operate as normal. The Government also advises that we consult with heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) engineers if ventilation systems serve several buildings and we’re not sure if they need adjusting. We have a team of Building Services Engineers and contractors working on this.  


Ventilation concerns or issues

  • We understand that you may still be concerned about spending time in a room with no obvious ventilation or where there may be people who are not wearing face coverings. If you have any concerns please contact your department or line manager in the first instance.
  • Please continue to report any maintenance issues (such as a window not opening) through the Estates Help Desk. 

Further questions

If you have a more general question, please check that it has not already been answered on our Coronavirus FAQ or on our Keeping Safe on Campus webpages. If it hasn’t, students can contact us through the askUCL student enquiries system and members of UCL staff can submit a question about keeping safe on campus via our online form, or alternatively you can email covidhelpline@ucl.ac.uk. If you would like to speak to someone on the phone, please call our helpline on 0203 108 5699. Lines are open 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday.