A significant share of HBW Construction projects involve sensitive environments like hospitals, clinics and senior living communities. Industry precautions to protect patients, visitors, tenants and staff during construction have evolved over several decades, and they are top-of-mind since the COVID pandemic.
In addition to CDC guidelines, OSHA requirements and other standards, we perform an Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) as part of our construction planning process. ICRA is a systematic process that determines the effects of construction or renovation activities on air or water quality, assessing the level of risk to patients, visitors or staff and defining controls to reduce that risk.
Now, new guidelines known as ICRA 2.0 are helping project teams better assess, prepare and manage identified risks. The ICRA 2.0 matrix is published by the American Society for Health Care Engineering (ASHE) and other professional groups and associations in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A multi-disciplinary team of infection prevention and control, industrial hygiene, construction, facility management specialists and other authorities worked together to develop ICRA 2.0.
The ICRA 2.0 matrix provides even greater clarity for hospital design and construction, but we think these precautions are applicable to any project for infection risk control. Tenant-occupied projects are one example, especially those that involve vulnerable populations such as the elderly.
During project planning, we will discuss how to assess and apply ICRA precautions to the project. This often involves setting up a sealed perimeter around the construction area with temporary walls and plastic, which allows us to create a sealed, negative air pressure environment. Air cannot escape, and it is in turn drawn into the construction area by way of an air scrubber that has dual HEPA filters that capture dust and particulates. The air pressure is monitored to maintain a consistent, negative air pressure environment (Digital Room Air Pressure Monitoring System with Alarm).
Project by project, we can apply ICRA precautions for removal, construction or inspections involving:
Any carpentry work that involves sanding, painting or significant vibration/noise is taken into consideration for minimizing risk to patient areas. This includes areas with high-risk patients who are immunocompromised or undergoing invasive treatments. ICRA 2.0 also designates medium risk areas, such as waiting rooms, a cafeteria or a gift shop.
Whether we are working on a hospital or another project, we consider the health and safety of the public, client staff and our HBW teams.
This includes how we remove debris from construction sites. We can cover containers that include debris, and we can lay down sticky mats to capture debris from shoes or carts going in and out of the construction areas.
If there is a chance of finding hazardous materials, we alert the client and call in special mitigation teams for its careful removal.
We provide our crew members with personal protective equipment such as high-grade masks, goggles and gloves.
If additional job site precautions are needed or requested, we factor them into the construction project schedule (and manage them through ongoing communication) to help the team meet client expectations for completion.
We want to be part of the solution from day one. If you have any questions about infection risk control for your upcoming project, contact us.
Mike Foley is a Superintendent and John Hubbuch is a Project Executive at HBW Construction.