Healthcare associated infections are a significant safety risk for individuals obtaining care in a variety of settings. The Joint Commission (TJC) continues to strengthen infection control standards in order to raise awareness that health care associated infections are a “national concern that can be acquired within any care, treatment or service setting, and transferred between settings, or brought in from the community.”
Organizations are expected to incorporate an infection control program as a major component of safety. During construction, maintenance and renovation it’s extremely important that certain steps and precautions are taken in order to reduce risks and the spread of harmful pathogens.
What are 4 steps to proper infection control during maintenance work?
1. Follow The Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) standard risk evaluation
Because there are different types of construction ranging from inspections to total demolition and different levels of risk depending on the environment, it’s important to complete an evaluation concerning the appropriate methods needed for each particular setting. Completing an ICRA before starting work in healthcare facilities is recommended by CDC, TJC, APIC and ASHE. You can find it here.
2. Dust Containment: Use of anterooms and mobile containment units for above ceiling work
To prevent the spread of dust into occupied areas it’s important to use specific barriers to contain work areas. HAIs can be caused by harmful pathogens that travel with dust. If the maintenance is taking place above ceiling, mobile containment units are the most effective way to prevent the spread of dust and infectious particles into occupied spaces. They can help you comply with ICRA guidelines by containing the work area and maintaining negative air pressure inside the unit. See sample here.
3. With any containment barrier, make sure HEPA filtration is used
Whether you’re using an anteroom, or containment unit, if the worksite has discharge air being released, physical barriers must be sealed and negative pressure ventilation must be incorporated. This can be accomplished by using a negative air machine with pre-filters and High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters. HEPA filters trap microscopic particles such as fungal and mold spores and help filter harmful pollutants out of the work area. Without filtration, particle concentrations accumulate in indoor environments.
4. If you’re outsourcing your work, make sure you choose contractors who have extensive experience in sensitive environments
In such high risk environments, precautions need to be clearly understood and individual responsibility for patient safety needs to be recognized. While hiring a third party to come in and do maintenance, make sure they are experienced and knowledgeable when it comes to infection control procedures. Have they worked in hospitals or labs before? Do they use effective containment procedures? Do the technicians have adequate credentials and training? These are all questions you should consider asking!