Infection Control Measures to Take During Hospital Construction and Renovation Projects

Hospital renovations can be one of the most challenging areas of construction and should only be done by experienced professionals. Owners should always request the contractor’s health and safety plan and have an (ICRA) Infection Control Risk Assessment created prior to work commencing. It is as important for the owner’s representative as well as the contractor to be aware and implement these Infection Control Measures to reduce the facilities risk of spreading or creating infections from construction activities. People are in the hospital to get better not be exposed to situations in which they could get worse.
1. Containment Areas. Properly blocking off and barricading work spaces is one of the most important measures taken during a hospital renovation. The contractor should utilize floor to deck temporary wall partitions to fully seal off an area that will be undergoing Bathrooms Remodels activities. Typically, thick plastic barriers with zippered doors can be utilized on small projects / short duration projects. While on larger areas, temporary walls constructed of metal framing and gypsum drywall are more practical. In long term projects the metal frame and drywall option will be more durable. Typically the contractor will place 2 doors in these temporary wall partitions for compliance with 2 means of egress. Utilizing barriers constructed of gypsum wallboard, metal studs, and standard interior doors will provide the contractor a space that can be secured when the jobsite is down which will limit risks of theft and injuries. Containing the construction is important for safety of workers / patients wandering into construction areas as well as to prevent dust from spreading into the hospital.
2. Negative Air Pressure. In most cases, when performing construction activities the contractor will be generating dust. For the safety of the hospital and patients the contractor wants to create negative pressure air so that the space under construction is actually pulling air from the hospital instead of pushing air into the hospital. These negative air machines contain HEPA filters and will actually filter the air and are routed to the outside of the hospital through an exhaust duct via a window. The size of the machine to be selected and used will be based on the size of the space and CFM required. Many brands exist and a local abatement supply store is often a good place to find these. Rental stores may carry these as well. The best advice is to compare the HEPA replacement filter pricing as these can be expensive and required frequent changing depending on the size of the space to be renovated and types of dust generating activities to be performed. The one caveat to this is certain areas of the hospital are sterile processing areas and are required to be under Positive are pressure. These areas are the exception to the rule and should not be placed under negative air pressure. 3. Closing off Return and Supply Air Vents. Another important measure in control infections in hospital construction is to isolate the renovation space from the main building’s HVAC system. All return air vents should be closed, taped, or blocked off as to keep any dust generated in the construction zone from being circulated and entering the rest of the hospital. All supply vents should be disconnected as well, if possible. This will help with the negative air pressure of the space and keep the dust contained to the area of construction. This is a measure that requires a common sense approach. In some regions, extreme cold and hot weather may not allow for disconnecting of the supply vents because of freezing / overheating risks. These risks are understandable and can be overcome with a larger negative air machine to offset the supply CFM entering the space.
4. Dust Control. Another good practice for preventing dust from spreading into the floor areas of the hospital is to keep a clean jobsite. Utilize HEPA Filtered Shop Vacuums; they filter most of the air particulates to keep down the dust. Also, Dry Mop the area at mid day and end of business and follow that with a wet mop depending on the construction activities ongoing. This will keep the floors clean and minimize dust / debris on workers shoes and the chance of tracking that through the hospital. At the construction entrances utilize a dry mop, wet mop, and walk off mats. Require workers to wipe their feet on a dry mop then a wet mop, and then a sticky mat prior to exiting the space. These mats have a sticky side that the workers and roll carts pass over on the way in and out of the space and it pulls dirt and debris into the mat. Depending on construction activities going on in the space these mops and mats require more or less frequent changing and attention. The best entrance / exit of a space would be through stair wells in most cases. This helps to minimize tracking dirt throughout the entire hospital and also to limit the steady stream of workers from going in and out all day possibly disrupting day to day hospital activities.
5. Trash / Debris Removal. The best practice for removing debris from a workspace is to utilize a trash chute from a window for example that leads directly to a dumpster. Any debris going down the chute should be kept wet in order to minimize dust. Minimizing dust from the debris will keep the outside air vents of the buildings taking the air back in the hospital. If this option is not available covered rolling dumpsters should be utilized. By utilizing these covered dumpsters it will help to prevent any dust coming off the debris as it is wheeled through the hospital on its way to the outside disposal location. If you are a Hospital Representative in need of a contractor for a hospital Design Your Own House Floor Plans project…
Give us a call. We’ll be glad to give you an estimate on your project, produce a construction schedule, and layout an Infection Control Plan to minimize risk to your site.