Who obsesses over the safety of a community's environment? Who knows all the building codes, chemical exposure limits, and fire retardant additives by heart? Who walks through a built space and can identify potential risks from air quality, radiation, ergonomics, violence, and stress without batting an eye? Why, it's the industrial hygienist, of course! Today we will explore this profession and its role in keeping us healthy and safe.
So much of the success of infection control and prevention teams is the establishment of routines that promote best practices: Easy-to-access hand hygiene stations, checklists, terminal cleaning protocols, and a built environment that supports a lower bioburden all work together to help reduce transmission of pathogens. Disruptions to those routines open gaps where opportunistic microorganisms can sneak in and wreak havoc. While some of those disruptions can be avoided, there is a predictable, massive disruption facing all healthcare facilities: Renovation and construction projects. Today's post will explore some of the threats introduced by construction projects and what the facility can do to minimize HAIs.
Projects to improve the patient's environment are critical to optimizing patient outcomes. Getting rid of moisture-trapping materials, opening rooms up to natural light, and installation of biocidal materials to kill bacteria are all important construction projects for today's medical facility. Construction, however, comes with its own risks which must be anticipated. The American Society for Health Care Engineering (ASHE) released an updated Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA 2.0) tool, the result of several years of expert collaboration. The tool is a 4-step process to guide healthcare facilities on how to mitigate infection risk during maintenance or construction projects. In today's post, we will highlight 7 improvements to the new tool, and implications for the infection preventionists tasked with supervising their implementation.