HFE Countermeasures for Poor Ventilation & Overcrowding in Hospital Basements
Most hospitals have been designed such that dungeons have been adopted to provide extended services such as parking or storage of materials. For hospitals underground spaces have been adopted mostly for storage. Owing to increased usage of the spaces above the ground for various activities, these low- use dungeons have found new uses in creation of offices to accommodate the large staff that always characterized most hospitals. The increased concurrent use of these spaces for office partitions and storage has led to incidences of overcrowding and pollution of the air in these basements. As a result unhealthy working conditions have been generated and therefore measures have been adopted to control this. On e such method is the application of human factor engineering methods to reduce the effects of overcrowding and improve on the air quality within the dungeons.
Causes of poor ventilation in basements
One question we need to ask ourselves is what he causes of overcrowding and poor ventilation in basement regions of hospitals are. Bearing in mind that these basement regions are used for varied reasons, poor ventilation can ensue quite easily. In the construction of basements certain measures have to be put in place to cater for ventilation for instance construction of vents, construction of exhaust fans in the event of parking basements, or even relying on natural sources to provide ventilation. However, the expected traffic for which these ventilation sources are provided are more often than not surpassed like in the case of hospitals. A larger traffic relates to a more intensive use of the basements and therefore increased likelihood of pollution of the air in these basements. The absence of windows and other common ventilation techniques such as numerous doors in basement region is one factor that fuels the possibility of air contamination. In certain instances, the existing vents could be blocked by solid material that would definitely affect the air supply mechanism into and out of basements. A major cause of air contamination as a result of poor ventilation in basements especially when used as a storage facility is fumes emitted by the stored items. In the classic example of a hospital basement, stored drugs have different fumes and odor that could result in the contamination of the air in the basement. These in many instances lead to accumulation of toxic substances such as radon and even the formation of meth labs. Meth labs are very dangerous creations of stored items which could have devastating effects on the human health. This is because they in turn produce meth which could be very dangerous to the human health. Poor ventilation could also lead to high accumulation of carbon dioxide gas that is emitted in the course of the breathing process by humans. This depends heavily with the human population operating from the basement. High levels of this gas are dangerous to the human health.
How to improve ventilation in basement regions
The diverse use of basements as storage facilities and office regions has had far greater consequences on the health and working conditions of the personnel assigned to these regions. These personnel are mostly store keepers and could in extreme cases be mortuary attendants depending on the use of the free area. Ventilation must therefore be sufficient. Discussed below are some of the methods that can be applied to obtain efficient ventilation.
Use of vents: These are the most common type of ventilation applied in basements. Their construction should be such that they occupy 1/20 of the total wall area. Their situation should also de strategic in that the parts used for storage should be ventilated more to reduce possibilities of toxic gases accumulating. Radon vents for instance could be developed to reduce the accumulation of radon quantities. These vents should however be connected to sanction pipes that releases kit to the atmosphere. The same could be adopted for other gases. In as far as vents are concerned, routine check up to ensure proper functioning should be conducted. This is because in certain instances these vents could get blocked and would therefore need cleaning.
Strategic location of offices in relation to exits: Offices are where people conduct their businesses from. In basements, their location should be such that they are closer to exits such as doors. In case of other incidences such as fire outbreaks then the emergency doors could come in handy while proximity to entry points facilitates efficient movement of people and increased air circulation.
Adoption of natural sources of ventilation: Natural ventilation is a result of natural processes. Here ventilation is achieved through differences in either temperature or humidity whereby in the case of temperature hot air in the basements is continuously replaced by cold air from outside through a process known as the stack effect. Care should be taken in positioning he inlets and outlets as it would affect the stack effect. Inlet pipes should be situated at lower levels of the basement while outlets should be situated at upper levels. This is duet o the difference in density of cold fresh air (denser) and the hot contaminated air (lighter). Its usage is considered more cost effective as compared to mechanical sources.
Use of mechanical ventilation sources: these are mostly applied in regions where conditions for natural ventilation do not exist. Their use, though widespread, is not cost effective considering the energy involved. They include among other things air conditioners and fans. Air conditioners could also be used alongside space temperature sensors (which provide the relationship between the external and internal temperature conditions) as well as zone control dampers can be used in regions not regularly used like for instance the storage section to hinder dampness that could affect the shelf life of the stored drugs. Air conditioners are mostly used to regulate the temperature levels of the basement regions. The use of circulating fans should be limited to the regions frequently used like for instance the office regions. Fans generally purify the air and could also act as heat regulators in circumstances where the temperature levels rise too high.
Use of air fresheners: air fresheners clean the air in an enclosed building room and their use could come in handy in the case of basements. Since there would be a higher possibility hat the basement room would be contaminated with odor and various fumes emitted by both the stored goods and the people through the various respiratory processes, air fresheners would be used with much success. However, care should be taken not to use excess of these fresheners as this would lead to deadly side effects. Their use could be hazardous in case care is not taken or if large amounts are used.
Causes of overcrowding in basements
Being that the dungeon is used for numerous amounts of storage, there are many times when crates are piled directly in front of our doors and in the hallways, causing blockage of the ceiling mirrors (which are supposed to allow us to see if someone is coming) as well as collisions of personnel, machines, crates and sometimes corpses. They are therefore bound to be overcrowded. In the case of a hospital basement whereby storage and office activities exist concurrently, the odds are even higher. Overcrowding results from increased use of a place for many activities other than the ones intended for. Overcrowding could result from: poor placement of objects (could also include poor interior designs of the letable areas and unchecked storage of objects such as crates), existing minimal storage space (such that goods and objects would be found strewn every where even along hallways and even on door steps), uncoordinated delivery of products (a large inventory of goods may build up if the supply schedule is not properly coordinated. This may warrant more storage space than is actually available thereby leading o overcrowding as more space meant for transport and even office establishment will be taken up) and large volume of traffic on a small designed space (A large number of personnel on a seemingly small space would increase congestion prospects. Congestion is what actually defines overcrowding).
How to reduce overcrowding in basements
Various measures could therefore be put in place to reduce overcrowding in basement regions. Expanding the size of hallways (if any) in basement regions: This is where most of the overcrowding occurs. This is because, most items are carelessly left in the hallway especially those meant for storage purposes. Collision of human traffic could also be lessened in the event interior designs are conducted such that more space is accorded to the hallway.
Prioritize storage space: Considering that dungeons are mostly used for storage purposes, much of its interior space should be left for storage. The number of offices should be minimized as much as possible so as to allow more storage space.
Coordinate delivery schedules for goods and supplies: A large number of goods in place tend to have more space requirements and hence proper scheduling should be done to minimize on an inventories that would otherwise arise. Inventories are the unused stocks that remain in the store after the required amount of materials are taken. Delivery should therefore be scheduled so that it happens only in instances of a reduced stock count and in proportional amounts.
Creating storage space: This simply involves clearing space through discarding used substances that otherwise fill the requisite space. This is the most efficient way to create space and should be conducted on a rather frequent basis. This also helps to get rid of meth that would otherwise arise to alarming levels and could be harmful to the human health.
Adopting educative methods: In a bid to reduce overcrowding, educative methods can be used. By this I mean, posters and sign posts can be used to provide directions and even warnings to careless acts that lead to overcrowding. The personnel working from the basement can be advised on the efficient methods of store keeping such as reduction in waste accumulation among other important lessons.
Checking for availability of space in offsite go downs or storage facilities: Most institutions that receive large amounts of supply of goods in most cases have off site storage sites otherwise known as go downs. Hospitals being one of such institutions may have them too. In the event the storage space provided by basements proves insufficient; these offsite sites can be used once enough space is created.
Number of storage personnel: The number of people operating from basement should be reduced so as to minimize on the possibilities of collision and congestion that is characteristic of highly populated centers. Alternatively methods such as coded uniforms could be adopted to foster easy movement. As concerns the people working as store keepers for example, separate rooms above the ground should be sort to act as their offices wherein they would spend much of their time. This is to minimize exposure to harmful substances like radon and meth that would impact on their lives.
All these should measures should be taken in line with the stipulations of the EHS (environmental, health and safety organization).