Maintain Infection Control During Construction

Carpenters undergo training to protect patients during building renovation

May 31, 2022

Hospitals rarely close, even for renovation. Carpenters can unintentionally introduce germs as they tear apart and remodel the inside of hospitals and other health care facilities.

Construction companies are taking action to protect patients from infections introduced during construction, Health Care Facilities Today reports. They are training construction crews in the proper procedures to contain work sites during renovations to limit infections. The training shows carpenters how to seal off construction sites and how to control air flow by creating negative pressure within their construction area so no debris or contaminants can escape. Crews also learn how to use HEPA filtration to clean the air as they work.  

“When construction workers are laying new concrete, opening existing drywall, or reconfiguring plumbing systems, a variety of dangerous contaminants and pathogens that may have laid dormant for the past 10 years can become agitated and spread across the rest of the facility,” said Tom Bender, infection control risk assessment director with the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters. “If proper containment barriers are not established and protocols not enforced, these pathogens can then infect patients whose immune systems may be already weakened by their pre-existing condition.” 

The Council has joined with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBC) to implement the UBC 24-hour Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) best practices program to train members on how to properly contain hazards on work sites. This training includes the UBC eight-hour awareness course for construction and maintenance workers in various health care facilities.

“The ICRA program saves lives,” said Bender. “By implementing the ICRA standards, those responsible for patient safety are helping everyone, from the patients to the doctors, the staff, the visitors and even the passerby on the street.”

The ICRA standards can be applied to facilities outside of health care. Facility managers at schools, offices, and other businesses can request ICRA-standard-trained construction crews to help keep their building inhabitants safe and healthy during renovation.

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