The floorcovering installation industry is actively fighting the spread of COVID-19 and other healthcare-associated infection (HAIs) in major ways. This includes adopting Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) standards and protocols that help safeguard patients from potential contaminants during renovations and construction projects.
ICRA has been protecting patients and healthcare workers for years before the pandemic. But now, it is more important than ever for all construction trades to adopt ICRA—to protect patients and healthcare workers across the nation.
What is ICRA?
The United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC) offers two Infection Control Risk Assessment courses: ICRA Awareness eight-hour training and ICRA 24-hour training. The eight-hour course is for healthcare facility staff, or anyone entering an active jobsite. The 24-hour training is for carpenters, covering the same content as the eight-hour training in addition to how to build and maintain barriers. “Both courses emphasize how to apply ICRA standards, why, and who it protects,” said Rick Okraszewski, ICRA Committee Lead, UBC.
The curriculum was developed by consulting with leading construction-related infection control experts and is reviewed regularly to keep materials relevant to industry needs. “The 24-hour course for construction teaches techniques for containing pathogens, controlling airflow, protecting patients, and completing work without disrupting adjacent operations,” added Tim Chesleigh, council representative for the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters.
“INSTALL works with its contractors to employ UBC ICRA so construction teams can classify work areas to minimize risks, understand and adhere to protocols, and communicate with the facility’s team,” added John T. McGrath Jr., INSTALL executive director. Other important aspects include project risk evaluation, the proper use of multiple wall systems, understanding blood borne pathogens, and working in unique environments such as pharmacies, laboratories, and testing areas.
Infection Control Risk Assessment is not just a checklist that installers use during a project, it is a holistic approach to construction that considers multiple points of infection and involves a wide variety of professionals. The Carpenters understanding of infectious disease and its strategic partnership with the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), puts the Carpenters in a position to incorporate proper protocols to protect patients and anyone exposed to the construction environment.
This is extremely important during the COVID-19 pandemic and far into the future. The same practices and learning outcomes that help contractors make efficiency and productivity gains in healthcare environments, are allowing them to construct makeshift hospitals, convert hospital wings to COVID-19 treatment facilities, and create Airborne Infectious Isolation (negative pressure) rooms.
Plus, the ICRA program provides training to more than just the building trade and floorcovering professionals, expanding education opportunities to healthcare professionals and other construction related professionals.
A Model for Elevating Patient Safety through Education
The recent implementation of ICRA at medical facilities across the nation is a testament to the program’s success. Any facility who integrates ICRA language into their guidelines for construction and remodeling means that they require contractors, subcontractors, and vendors to be educated on infection prevention measures before performing work. The ICRA Awareness eight-hour training available for healthcare employees is beneficial for infection prevention teams as well as housekeeping, janitorial, and service workers. Instructors include information on clinical impacts and associated costs if they do not have an ICRA plan in place, making it a vital ally to helping facility teams manage risks.
“The Infection Control Risk Assessment training provides the foundation for how facilities staff perform maintenance, repair, and construction within a medical center. In addition, the training clearly articulates why ICRA is an essential element to protecting the medical center from all construction activities,” McGrath added.
“The Carpenters stand ready and are eager to assist every healthcare facility to provide safe construction jobsites through UBC ICRA training,” Chesleigh stated.