Mac's Safety Space: HVAC operations—Better breathing ahead?

Well (at least up here in the Northeast), it appears that the cooling season is rapidly changing over to the heating season and, (so it would seem) the advocacy season is heating up as well.

Late last week, the combined forces of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the American Society for Health Care Engineering (ASHE) announced the introduction of Guideline 43, Operations Guideline for Ventilation of Health Care Facilities, which nominally is intended to “render obsolete the long-standing practice of using HVAC design standards as operational practice standards and resolve discrepancies between what is allowable by design standards and what constitutes nominal HVAC performance.” The announcement included a link to the public comment page for the proposed Guideline, which as of now is open until November 20. I would encourage each and every one of you to check out the content and weigh in on the impact. I think we can all agree that the management of ventilation is a significant challenge and building performance flexibility into that process may just reduce some headaches over time.

Again, I would encourage you to look over the contents of the proposed Guideline. There’s a lot going on, particularly in terms of recommended monitoring of conditions (it may be a simple proposition to meet the minimum requirements, but, at least in some cases, I suspect it won’t always be easy). Ultimately, it’s about working toward keeping patients and staff safe and comfortable while not setting the bar at an impossible height. This seems like a thoughtfully planned “good thing”—what say you?

About the Author: Steve MacArthur is a safety consultant with Chartis Clinical Quality Solutions (formerly known as The Greeley Company) in Danvers, Mass. He brings more than 30 years of healthcare management and consulting experience to his work with hospitals, physician offices, and ambulatory care facilities across the country. He is the author of HCPro's Hospital Safety Director's Handbook and is contributing editor for Healthcare Safety Leader. Contact Steve at

Found in Categories: 
ASHE, Environment and Facilities, Utilities