Those of us involved in health care construction know firsthand how critical it is to create and maintain a safe environment on-site so that all proper precautions are taken to protect patients and other users of our facilities. This information is gained through years of experience and lessons learned, and should be shared with our staff and new facility managers to ensure that they are prepared to work within the health care environment.

In response to this need, the American Society for Health Care Engineering (ASHE) has created a new worker certification program that can help facility and construction leaders better understand the unique nature of health care facilities. This new program, called the Certified Health Care Physical Environment Worker program, is designed to help reduce the risks associated with health care construction.

Unlike some other programs geared toward health care construction workers, the ASHE worker certification is focused squarely on patient safety — and it’s convenient! Workers can take the hour-long, multiple-choice certification examination any time online and immediately get a temporary badge if they pass; a permanent photo badge will be sent to them after they pass.

I recommend that you include the certification in the bid specification documents for your next new construction or renovation project. Sample bid specification language is available online to help. Requiring the certification for everyone who steps foot on the job site can reduce the time you spend on orientation for construction workers.

In addition, you may want to consider requiring the certification for everyone in your facilities management group. The concepts covered by the certification — such as infection control, life and fire safety, and utility system shutdowns, for example — should be understood by everyone who works in hospitals and other types of health care facilities.

You can read more about the Certified Health Care Physical Environment Worker program and other certifications on ASHE's website

Bradley R. Taylor, MBA, CHFM, ASHE President