Facility Safety Nuggets from ASHE & NFPA

Facility Safety Nuggets from ASHE & NFPA

This year, there are two new industry-wide safety association rule changes/updates that impact all facilities team members. The first is from The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an international nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property, and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards.

It's NFPA 80, the standard which regulates the installation and maintenance of assemblies and devices used to protect openings in walls, floors, and ceilings against the spread of fire and smoke within, into, or out of buildings. The new changes, effective January 2022, provide a clearer definition of who a "qualified person" is regarding periodic (annual) inspections and drop testing. NFPA 80 will now include language that reads "periodic inspections and testing shall be performed by a trained rolling steel fire door systems technician."

"Knowing where these items are located critical to the success of your annual inspection," said David Trask, National Director, ARC Facilities. "You should identify each and have access to maps showing all locations with all supporting documentation while you are doing your site walk inspection. This will allow you to report any repairs or replacements needed."

A second, and equally important rule change is from the American Society of Healthcare Engineering (ASHE), the largest association dedicated to the healthcare built environment: ASHE Infection Control Risk Assessment, 2.0, which address inspection and invasive activities, including removal of ceiling tile for visual inspection and breaks down low to high-risk building areas for patients and assess potential risk of exposure to key areas in a healthcare setting. One of the key improvements is expanding the descriptive language throughout all portions of the ICRA.

According to ASHE, the use of infection control risk assessments (ICRAs) during hospital design and construction projects has been evolving for the past several decades.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the basic elements of an infection prevention program are designed to prevent the spread of infection in healthcare settings. When these elements are present and practiced consistently, the risk of infection among patients and healthcare personnel is reduced.

Healthcare facilities managers are responsible for code compliance, including state and federal code and standards from healthcare organizations, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, requirements from the EPA, OSHA, and CDC policies, and more. In addition, the facility itself must be up to code with requirements from the American Institute of Architects and other building safety regulations.

They're also responsible for finance, day-to-day operations and maintaining certifications through the American Hospital Association.

"Limiting exposure to open, and possibly contaminated spaces, can impact patient, visitor and employee health and safety," said Trask. "Minimizing this exposure is a critical part of all facilities and maintenance team’s responsibilities."

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