Energized Work in Healthcare Facilities is a Risky Business
The extreme risks of uncertainty may be something you never thought to think of.
Managing day-to-day operations of a facility is a big responsibility and requires having your finger on the pulse of everything going on in a single building or a full campus. Any flatlines in the inner workings of a healthcare facility system could have a deadly effect on its overall ability to function properly. One such example of a critical system that can impact a healthcare facility is the electrical system. This system provides not just basic power but also supplies power to items considered critical to human life such as ventilators and defibrillators.
Because the stakes are so high within healthcare facilities, decision makers must be strategic about not only what work gets done on the facility electrical system, but also how the work gets done. Even prescheduled and planned work can lead to unintended power outages with unknown durations that can weigh heavily on the needs of the facility. Managers of the facility must weigh every potential risk when making determinations as to how the electrical system is serviced, modified or upgraded. With power availability being closely tied to a healthcare facility operating flawlessly, a common decision that a facility manager must make is whether or not electrical work should be performed in an energized state.
Is it Necessary?
Energized electrical work, or “hot” work as it is often referred to within the trade, is an extremely risky proposition that should not be taken lightly. While de-energizing a part, or all, of the electrical system can often be considered an inconvenience, healthcare facility managers must consider all risks involved when determining a course of action. An important thing to consider when it comes to determining if energized work is necessary is that a coordinated and planned electrical power shutdown is much easier to manage than an unexpected power loss that happens while energized work is being performed.
Determining the areas of impact for an electrical shutdown ahead of time allows you to move the necessary chess pieces around because you know exactly what you’re dealing with, and it allows the technician to keep doing the work safely because it is being done in a de-energized state. Performing energized work leaves your facility susceptible to unplanned outages and can leave you scrambling to determine how to resolve power distribution issues throughout.
This article originally appeared in the June 1, 2021 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.
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