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Keeping Healthcare Safe During Construction: The Importance of an ICRA

Thinking about renovating or expanding your healthcare facility? An Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) is a critical component you should include. An ICRA ensures the safety of patients, staff, workers, and the public throughout construction by minimizing the risk of infectious diseases.

What Does an ICRA Do?

An ICRA creates a plan to mitigate infection risks during various project phases, from mobilization to construction to closeout. Here's how it works:

  • Planning with the Infection Control Professional: The design team and client collaborate with the facility's infection control professional to assess:

    • The type of work planned
    • Patient populations in affected areas
    • Necessary precautions to minimize risks
    • Impact on nearby spaces
    • Measures to ensure infection control continuity through completion
  • Construction and Monitoring: Once a construction manager is involved, they contribute their field expertise to the ICRA plan, which they will then manage throughout construction. The facility's infection control professional will also remain involved throughout the process:

    • Monitoring plan implementation
    • Educating workers and staff on ICRA requirements
    • Facilitating communication and coordination with facility members

Infection Control Measures During Construction:

The specific measures taken will depend on your project, but some common considerations include:

  • Barriers: To prevent dust, debris, contaminants, and noise from migrating.
  • HVAC Systems: Modification and monitoring of air handling systems.
  • Negative Pressure: Maintaining lower air pressure in the work area to prevent contaminants from spreading.
  • Temporary Equipment & Systems: Ensuring proper infection control protocols are followed.
  • Water System Protection: Preventing contamination of the facility's water supply.
  • Worker Protocols: Guidelines for worker movement, protective clothing use, and hygiene.
  • Work Site Access: Designated entry points with sticky mats, and possibly anterooms, to control spread of debris.
  • Material & Debris Management: Safe loading, equipment movement, and debris removal.
  • Project Phasing: Relocating functions and strategically timing construction phases to minimize disruption.
  • Cleaning & Disinfection: Regular and effective cleaning protocols.
  • Emergency Procedures: Clear plans for emergencies.

Resources for a Successful ICRA:

The American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) offers a valuable toolkit to guide project teams in developing an ICRA plan. You can find it here: ASHRAE ICRA Toolkit:

Keeping Your Healthcare Facility Safe

Renovations and expansions are essential for a growing healthcare facility. By understanding the importance of an ICRA and implementing it effectively, you can ensure the safety and well-being of everyone involved in your project.

Hardaway|Sziabowski Architects has extensive experience in healthcare facility improvements, including ICRA preparation. Contact us today to discuss your project!