Hourigan

3 Key Considerations for Effective Containment Within Active Healthcare Facilities

11.04.20

Containment measures are essential in any construction environment, but especially in those with occupants. They ensure that potentially harmful dust and airborne particulates do not circulate outside of the construction area. However, considering the spread of viruses such as COVID-19, containments are also necessary for disease control. They become especially critical when working in healthcare or senior living facilities, where patients and residents are particularly vulnerable. For effective containment during construction in an active healthcare facility, owners should reflect on these three critical considerations.

Communication

Open communication before and during a project is key to effective containment, as it contributes to the overall means and methods the containment may require. Communications should include the transfer of relevant documentation to the contractor, such as a facility’s established Environmental Health and Safety Guidelines. Additionally, regular discussions regarding staff access needs are necessary to ensure operational continuity. Communication considerations should also encompass signage or wayfinding, record keeping and documentation for life safety and associated requirements, and establishing traffic patterns for construction workers, equipment, supplies, and waste removal.

Containment Location

The physical location within a building where the work occurs determines the equipment and materials necessary to contain the space. Material considerations include the type of barriers required; barrier placement; negative air machine location(s); proper exhaust routing, method, and any potential disinfection; and any requisite demolition or removal, storage, and reinstallation of walls, glass, etc. Owners should also consider proximity to areas sensitive to pathogens and other contamination (e.g., a work area located next to a dining or operating room within a healthcare or senior living facility), as discussed further below.

Environment and Level of Containment

The environment in which work takes place determines the level of containment required. The type of facility, individual facility containment requirements, containment location, and industry standards such as Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) Best Practices all inform the equipment and strategies necessary to contain the construction area. The goal of any containment strategy is to seal all supply and return air within the construction space to prevent infiltration into the building’s mechanical systems or spaces adjacent to the construction. Methods to achieve this may include:

More than ever, employing best-in-class containment measures is critical to the health of residents, patients, and staff of healthcare facilities. Finding a contractor who understands the importance of implementing containment measures is crucial for ensuring a seamless construction experience.

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