Risk Management

Hospital construction demands extra caution


Every construction project comes with its own set of challenges, but there are some issues that can be anticipated based on what's being built. In the medical industry, there are many concerns that require close attention and precision during the building process. Busy construction sites can present plenty of health hazards from pollution that materials can kick up into the air. When working on health care facilities, it's especially important to be aware of what's being left behind and take steps to protect the health of future inhabitants.

Though health care construction spending is slowing, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, existing facilities could always use some work to keep them up to date.

Health hazards 
According to The Daily Journal of Commerce, everything from volatile chemicals to simple noise and vibration from machinery can impact the care of patients when work is being done on a hospital already in operation. While these dangers remain only as long as crews are actively working, others can lurk long afterward. If even one worker fails to clean equipment properly or mold gets into the air during the construction process, microorganisms may linger and infect patients who use the facility later. Specialized continuing education for contractors can help workers avoid these hazards, and just keeping informed about the latest clean site procedures could make the difference between a safe facility and one that puts patients at risk.

Planning work
Before work even begins, crews should be briefed on how the rooms they're operating in are to be used and what the chances are that their actions could affect others in the hospital. While every site demands commitment to safety and avoidance of anything that may increase infection risk, emergency rooms and other critical care areas require even greater attention to cleanliness.

Clean sites 
Though contractors work on construction sites every day and usually suffer no health consequences, people with compromised immune systems can be vulnerable even to dust and common bacteria. It's important to thoroughly clean everything that enters a health care facility, including the workers on the crew and the clothes they're wearing. Any component to be installed should be cleaned and wrapped before it comes into the building. Any time workers enter or leave the job site, they should vacuum debris from their clothes and put on new shoe covers.

Risk management professionals should be on site to make sure that guidelines are being followed, and once work is complete, a certified inspector must ensure that air quality has not been damaged by the work. It's impossible to predict every hazard that enters a construction site, but following the right procedure and keeping current with training can prevent harm to the health of patients seeking help.