Coordination of safety requirements during construction in a hospital environment is paramount. We recently completed a project where we were fitting up two shelled patient med/surg floors between two occupied floors. We met with the hospital’s safety and infection control teams to review the scope of work and the Interim Life Safety Measure (ILSM) plans.

As we were getting ready to schedule the work, we met with the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). After reviewing our plans, they were concerned that their requirements differed from our plans regarding patient safety on the floors above and below the construction space. We contracted with a third-party fire protection consultant to review the plans and, after reconciliation, the AHJ allowed us to remove and replace the sprinkler system for a few weeks at a time, but the shell space fire alarm and smoke detection system had to remain active throughout construction (smoke detectors were covered for dust protection and the system was taken offline during the work day, but the dust covers were removed every night and the system re-activated). In addition to continuous fire protection on the floors under construction, several other checks were put into place, including hospital security site walkthroughs every six hours, daily trash removal from the site, daily inspections of fire extinguishers, daily review of all exits to confirm they were free and clear for access, and inspection documentation to ensure the safety of the patients.

The lesson here is to add an early meeting with the AHJ to your preconstruction checklist, particularly when there are patients that will be impacted by construction. An early meeting will provide an in-depth understanding of their concerns in order for you to integrate them into your plans. You want to come to a resolution on how to proceed prior to construction, so the subcontractor buyout includes the proper requirements. That’s why it’s helpful to involve the CM early—we can help the team with these types of constructability issues to ensure compliance with local AHJ’s.

Have you had a similar experience?