The GreenFlag Association has launched as an international effort to advise on primary preventative solutions to reduce the risk of transmission of airborne pathogens, specifically within public spaces, including Covid-19.
This a world first and uniquely South African collaborative approach to reduce the disease and economic burden on the country. Its aim is to achieve affordable, safe and sustainable disease prevention protocols for all public spaces.
The multidisciplinary initiative, comprising of international scientists, academics and business representatives, launched ahead of South Africa’s holiday season, talk of increased lockdown levels and a possible third wave of Covid disease.
The GreenFlag Association is assisting businesses on the KwaZulu-Natal Coast as they prepare to host holiday makers as safely as possible by providing certification of their existing Covid-19 protocols and importantly, their air quality.
Covid-19 is largely an airborne disease, so air quality is critically important in reducing the spread of the disease.
“Ventilation with fresh clean replacement air is a crucial element of providing a safe and healthy environment and, like other Covid safety protocols – such as wearing masks and cleansing hands regularly – ensures an extremely important extra level of safety for visitors,” says Sean Chester, a qualified Occupational Hygienist, registered with the Southern African Institute for Occupational Hygiene (SAIOH) and founding chairman of the Association.
Similar to Blue Flag status obtained by beaches, GreenFlag Certification of public spaces offers reassurance that a venue has taken all precautions to provide a safe public space to customers and staff – especially when it comes to adequate ventilation.
The GreenFlag Association is a collaboration of Apex Environmental, a leading environmental health and safety firm in South Africa, Supplier Development Initiatives (SDI), a firm that assists in enterprise and supplier development, as well as ADreach, which specialises in marketing and communications.
“One of the main objectives of the GreenFlag Association is to raise the awareness and understanding of the importance of proper air quality and adequately ventilated public spaces in preventing the transmission of any airborne diseases and to promote healthier and safer public spaces internationally,” says Charles Murray, CEO of SDI and co-founder of the GreenFlag Association.
“Around the world there has been a lack of understanding and relatively slow acknowledgement, from leading international scientific organisations, about the airborne nature of Covid-19 and the significance of airborne transmission in poorly ventilated environments. This continues to be the case, despite consensus that trapped air is the main source of so-called hot spots and superspreader events.”
To acquire GreenFlag Certification, a specially trained inspector assesses the air quality of the venue using a set of scientific criteria. Should the establishment meet the criteria, it will be issued with GreenFlag Certification. The certification will specify the number of people that can safely occupy the space, without compromising the safety of patrons, as well as indicate optimal airflow configurations necessary to prevent an accumulation of airborne viral particles.
“GreenFlag Certificates can be displayed at the entrance of the establishment or viewed online, which gives potential customers the peace of mind to enter the venue, or choose to avoid it, should the space be overcrowded,” says Brad Fisher, CEO of ADreach and co-founder of the Association.
The GreenFlag panel of experts includes international scientists and experts who are leaders in their field. They advise the Association on the latest science in the global health and safety fields. GreenFlag is recruiting expert service providers to serve as GreenFlag inspectors to ensure that as many venues as possible are assessed in as short a time-frame as possible.
The GreenFlag Association was launched on Wednesday, 31 March 2021, at the Umhlanga branch of the Butcher Boys restaurant in KwaZulu-Natal. The Butcher Boys restaurant was one of the first establishments to achieve GreenFlag Certification.