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Enhancing Maintenance Safety


Facilities maintenance and engineering can be a risky line of work. Managers, supervisors, and front-line technicians are well aware of the hazards that await technicians working on electrical systems and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment.

Workers in health care facilities face an added layer of risk. They risk infection while working in areas with sick patients, and they risk physical injury while handling, transporting and disposing of the many chemicals that move through hospitals, nursing homes and medical offices. And those are just two of the many risks they face.

Now, as scrutiny grows on the impact facilities have on the environment and on occupants, a change is taking place. Industry groups and health care executives, along with maintenance and engineering managers, are revisiting the way front-line workers carry out their daily activities in an effort to minimize risk to workers’ health and safety.

To help organizations achieve this goal, the Global Health and Safety Initiative formed in October 2007 with a mission to improve workplace safety, patient safety, and sustainability within health care organizations.

It plans to create a learning community that will use an open-source web site to disseminate best practices in design and operations. The home for this information is Hospitals for a Healthy Environment, www.h2e-online.org. The group is a partnership among organizations that include the American Hospital Association — www.aha.org — and Health Care Without Harm — www.noharm.org.

The initiative might turn into a valuable resource for managers seeking to improve the health and safety of their front-line maintenance and engineering technicians.

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