Although the construction industry was severely damaged by the Great Recession, there is one particular area where business is growing; hospital construction and renovation. Due to the increase demand for healthcare services by aging baby boomers, hospital construction and renovation projects have increased dramatically in the past ten years and will continue to grow in the future. According to McGraw-Hill Construction Research and Analytics, health care construction has increased six percent during 2011, outperforming the overall non-residential construction market. Although undertaking a hospital renovation project can be highly lucrative, there are many important rules and regulations that require full compliance by the contractor. Failure to meet these regulations could result in lawsuits or even worse, in the deaths of hospital patients. To avoid calamity, there are several extremely important things to know upon beginning renovation.
First and foremost, builders must meticulously contain dust disturbed by renovation activities. Allowing airborne particulates to circulate through the hospital could mean death for sensitive patients. On a hospital renovation jobsite at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Inc. in Tampa, FL, three children battling leukemia, ages two, five, and nine died after contracting fungal infections. The pathogenic fungi was released and circulated through the air conditioning systems from construction activities on the floor below. To avoid tragic scenarios such as this, builders must contain dust particulates as much as possible.
Secondly, while accessing electrical panels and ceiling wiring, subcontractors should use mobile containment units with negative air pressure to fully contain dust. Mobile containment units are small, portable enclosures that allow builders access to ceiling and wall panels without permitting particulates generated from sanding, drilling, etc. to circulate through the air. A few businesses allow contractors to rent mobile containment units but for large scale projects, investing in one or two will save time and money in the long run. For more details about mobile containment contact your local surface protection suppliers.
Another important aspect of dust control for primary contractors on the renovation project is preventing the spread of dust from subcontractors. Large-scale renovations typically require tens or hundreds of workers, and since meticulously preventing the spread of dust is so critical, these workers must all make a great effort to avoid contamination. Employee education is a great place to start, along with the requiring workers to wear personal protection. In order to help you comply with regulation there are several products that may make a huge difference; sticky mats, shoe covers, and coveralls. Require subcontractors to wear shoe covers and use fresh pairs as often as necessary. Install a sticky mat at each door entrance. Many adhesive mats are inexpensive and available in packs of four with thirty pages on each mat, so make sure to replace sticky sheets often.
A third important point is to be aware of fire-resistance requirements for your protection materials. When installing Zipwall systems for dust control or protecting a newly-installed concrete floor, use products that are certified as fire-resistant to avoid violating regulations. Large 4′ x 8′ sheets of fire-resistant corrugated plastic are also great for protecting wall panels, floors, doors, and more. Coverguard is another great option for a fire-resistant floor protection product that meets hospital renovation requirements.
These are only a few recommendations for preventing dust and protecting valuable fixtures during hospital renovation projects. For more information, contact Pat Mullen at Builders Site Protection and check out the OSHA website for easy-to-follow guidelines to understanding and fully complying with regulations.