When it comes to refurbishment projects, hospitals can be particularly high-risk environments.
The potential for health and safety issues is immense as any construction work must be planned around the ongoing needs of patients and staff. Patients must continue to be cared for, operations must take place and prescriptions must continue to be provided. These things cannot be put on hold because work is scheduled to take place at a hospital building.
Health and Safety first
The best way to ensure the day-to-day running of a hospital continues whilst a construction project takes place is to seek the advice from health and safety consultants right at the very beginning of the scheme.
At Acorn Safety Services, we have worked with some brilliant hospital trusts locally but unfortunately others don’t always realise the importance of getting the health and safety needs of their project assessed until long after work has started. Hospitals tend to have a clear picture of what work they want doing but they don’t always think about the health and safety side of things and this can have massive implications for them and their schedule.
For example, if there is a lighting upgrade project going on, we may need to shut a grid down which in turn may connect to an operating theatre. It’s not just a simple matter of shutting down a grid – you need to look at all the implications related to that action.
In an ideal world health and safety assessments should be carried out right at the beginning of the project. If they contact us at the beginning, we can go through everything that needs to be done in terms of health and safety and this gives the client a clearer idea of how long the project is going to take.
Where to start
Health and safety consultants will begin with the Scope of Works. They will visit the location, do the enabling works and make sure the project complies with the current health and safety legislation and written regulations. They will also arrange with the hospital trust to move around any operational facilities in the hospital that need to be relocated whilst the work goes on.
Communication is key. Health and safety consultants need to communicate with the relevant departments and the estates operation to keep them updated about the project. We liaise closely with heads of department so we can fully understand what work they need doing and what needs to happen to enable them to continue to work. These communications also help the hospital to communicate to their staff what will be happening and the start and finish dates.
We will do all the necessary paperwork and make sure the staff can get access to everything they need to continue to do their jobs, including IT.
To give you an example, we’ve recently completed a six-month project at the pharmacy at Northampton General Hospital. The pharmacy had to remain operational throughout the project because it dispenses medication throughout the hospital.
We had to phase the work over six months so that staff could work from different areas of the pharmacy, whilst the project went on.
Keep it Confidential
We do lots of projects in hospitals so we’re well aware of how sensitive their data can be. We don’t get involved in any data protection issues within the hospital. We don’t access any of the hospital’s information – we will move boxes for them from one room to another but that’s it.
How can Acorn Safety Services help?
Acorn Safety Services has successfully completed about 100 projects in hospitals in the UK and are Northampton General Hospital’s nominated contractor for asbestos work. Our team of experts is led by John Crockett IMaPS, SIIRSM RSP, ACIOB, who has worked in the industry for 43 years. He has a wide range of experience covering every stage of a project from feasibility and construction through to testing, commissioning and handover.
To get Health and Safety advice for your hospital construction project contact us today!