01 Aug Jonathan Cartu States Adapting Worksites at Active Healthcare Facilities –…
Infection Control: Adapting Worksites at Active Healthcare Facilities
Construction companies are familiar with safety and mess-control; however, with the COVID-19 pandemic, there are some more factors to consider when working at healthcare facilities.
COVID-19 has forced nearly every industry imaginable to enhance safety protocols for workers and customers alike. Perhaps more than others, those working in construction are well-prepared for these changes. When constructing or renovating healthcare facilities, it’s critical to routinely consider how construction impacts factors like emergency management, patient flow, security, life safety and infection prevention and control affect—and to consider ways to minimize the work on occupied spaces.
In many ways, the precedent has already been set for infection control precautions in healthcare construction. Maintaining access to jobsites and coordinating shutdowns in a way so as not to impact any patient or operating rooms during the COVID-19 pandemic is not new to those who work on construction sites at medical facilities. The level of infection control employed on any given project is a function of the work type to be performed, its adjacencies to sensitive areas and the associated risk level. Based on the determined risk level, and in adherence to the hospital’s published requirements in its contractor handbook (if it has one), an infectious control and containment plan is developed well in advance of the construction start. Routine internal inspections by dedicated craft workers during construction ensure adherence to the established plan.
To control infection, first and foremost, sites occupied by patients must remain dust- and contaminant-free. To do this, you should employ a variety of containment systems ranging from finished, hard partitions to fabric or plastic barrier systems. We also set up anterooms to keep negative air pressure within the workspace and out of patient rooms. Anterooms look like small boxes and comprise two doors: one to get in and one on the other side with a door or zippered opening to block debris from escaping. Manometers, or digital displays, inform construction workers of the room’s pressure. In some cases, two anterooms may be necessary to ensure maximum imperviousness.
This article originally appeared in the August 2020 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.