While we think of hospitals, nursing facilities, and residential care safety to be a key priority in medical building design, work-related illnesses and injuries are a growing problem within the healthcare industry. In June of this year, OSHA released a detailed report noting over 244 thousand illnesses and injuries were recorded by U.S. hospitals in 2013. Cases resulting in lost workdays totaled in over 57 thousand alone! To bring down these numbers, OSHA has recommended new guidelines for medical construction in three key areas.
Security Systems In Medical Building Construction Design
Violence in the workplace is a hard fact of life here in the United States, and medical facilities aren’t exempt from the problem. Hospitals and emergency rooms handle individuals with drug problems, mental illnesses, and violent histories. OSHA recommends that medical construction contractors incorporate security system designs into master planning. Surveillance, alarm systems, secure exit routes, and automatic door locks create the high levels of security necessary in today’s medical buildings. Other security features include well-lit parking areas and physical barriers along sidewalks to protect pedestrian traffic.
Airborne Infection Isolation Rooms (AIIR)
Formerly called negative pressure isolation rooms, medical contractors design airborne infection isolation rooms (AIIR) with fixed-air circulation systems. The purpose of an AIIR is to isolate individuals who are confirmed or suspected carriers of airborne infectious diseases in patient-care rooms, emergency rooms, or laboratories. Tuberculosis is a primary example of a disease that is more safely contained in an AIIR environment. These rooms exhaust directly to the outside and incorporates special filtration materials. As a component of medical facility construction, AIIRs increase the safe handling of hazardous materials in laboratory settings and protect occupants from serious illnesses.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Dispensaries
Workers in medical environments are exposed to infectious materials and dangerous chemicals on a daily basis. Their safety depends on ready access to a wide range of personal protective equipment (PPE) to reduce the risk of illness or injury. By incorporating PPE dispensaries into medical building plans, medical facility contractors provide health care workers and support staff with stations that distribute aprons, gloves, masks, and eyewear. Efficient storage, site-specific access, and ease-of-use are important components in designing PPE dispensaries and should be customized as needed according to medical facility type.
Compliance with OSHA standards is critical to building health care facilities that provide safe environments for patients, medical personnel, and support staff. Nationwide Construction practices strict adherence to government guidelines and regulations through all phases of medical building projects.