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How to ensure a Safe Healing Environment in hospitals?

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What is a Safe Healing Environment?

Before we touch upon ways to ensure that the healing environment is safe, let us first understand what a 'Safe Healing Environment' actually is. It is defined as the environment that provides a patient a comfortable space to recuperate and freedom from accidental or preventable injuries produced by medical care. In other words, a hospital by itself, cannot guarantee safety. A number of factors have to collectively contribute towards the efficacy and safety of the healing environment. 

Why is safety important in a hospital?

Firstly, given the very nature of a hospital, high footfall is an inherent feature. When the density of people is high, it becomes all the more difficult to safeguard them in the case of any untoward event. Secondly, it is but natural to have hazardous substances in close proximity. Hence, chances are that these may trigger off accidents and therefore, it becomes critical to ensure safety of those in the vicinity. Thirdly, the immobility of patients makes them easily susceptible to lurking dangers and unless help is extended from close quarters, they might not be able to rescue themselves.

What are the possible hazards that one might encounter in a hospital?

While unprecedented hazards may present themselves in a hospital, the most commonly occurring ones can be any of the following:

  • Biological agents
  • Chemical agents
  • Electricity
  • Environment
  • Equipment
  • Fall hazard
  • Fire
  • Ionizing radiation
  • Impact injury hazard

To deal with these hazards, active, or alternatively, passive protection hazards can be deployed, based on the nature of the danger. For instance, if the hazard pertains to biological agents, chemical agents, electrical mishaps, equipment malfunctioning and ionizing radiations, active protection measures need to be used. But when it comes to fire accidents and impact injuries, passive protection measures by way of building design, can be much effective.  In fact, choosing the right building materials, like glass, can actually go a long way in providing the requisite passive protection against fire and impact. 

How can you design healing spaces for fire safety?

Fire safety is said to be in place when measures are taken to prevent fire from becoming destructive, reduce the impact of uncontrolled fire and save lives & property. Compartmentalization is a commonly used technique of fire safety. The National Building Code recommends fire resistance rating values. In a hospital, the lift lobby and exit staircase should each be 2 hours fire rated while the refuge area should have at least 1 hour fire resistance. 

Saint-Gobain Vetrotech can help you design your healing space with fire safety through a range of fire resistant safety glass – Contraflam 120 Door Lite and Contraflam Lite 30/60. Fire resistant safety glass is classified E, EW and EI. Class EW products offer radiation control while Class EI provide integrity and insulation. EW is generally recommended for its ability to withstand fire exposure, limit transmission of radiant heat, maintain radiant heat in the non-fire side of the glazing and provide for safer separation distances that do not impede the escape routes. 

How can you design healing spaces for impact safety? 

Impact safety refers to the measures taken to ensure that the systems provide acceptable levels of safety and reduces the chances of injury from structural elements. Safety glass (glass that should have passed an impact test and either must not break or break safely) can provide impact safety when used in a building. 

Saint-Gobain Glass can contribute to a safe healing environment by toughening/laminating the glasses. Saint-Gobain toughened glass does not break into shards so occupants are left unharmed. Planistrong from Saint-Gobain Inspire is a toughened and lacquered interior glass that provides impact safety. When the glass is laminated with a Poly Vinyl Butyral (PVB)interlayer, the glass gets stuck on the PVB in the event of a breakage thereby offering enhanced safety. Planisafe is a laminated and lacquered interior application glass by Saint-Gobain Inspire designed to provide impact safety in a healing environment. 

From being labelled a 'delicate' material to being a contender for safety and strength, glass has come a long way. To know more about Saint-Gobain's products that ensure a safe healing environment, click here.

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