The U.S. health care field spends $58 billion per month on renovations, additions and new buildings to meet increasing and diversifying demands. In addition, the health care field has water safety and construction-related compliance requirements. These include a recent Joint Commission requirement that cites the need to update water management programs when changes have been made to a water system.

Combined, these leave health facilities water management teams and offices of design and construction seeking solutions and tools that reduce the likelihood that water will be a limiting factor in safe, on-time occupancy.

In “Reducing the Risk of Healthcare Associated Infections from Legionella and Other Waterborne Pathogens Using a Water Management for Construction (WMC) Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) Tool,” from the May 2022 Infectious Disease Reports journal, Molly Scanlon, Ph.D., FAIA, FACHA, et al., write, “Construction activities are a known risk factor contributing to disease cases and deaths in community and health care settings from waterborne pathogen growth and spread in a building water distribution system.” The authors then provide a tool, the WMC-ICRA Matrix, which uses existing core ICRA principles that facilities can use as a framework for safety during projects.

The WMC-ICRA Matrix is comprised of three steps. The first step is to evaluate the project’s WMC category, which is broken into categories A-D. The categories are based on the type of construction activity, its impact on water usage and the project’s duration. The second step is identifying the building occupant risk group, ranging from low to severe. The third step is determining the risk mitigation level (WMC 1, 2, 3 or 4) for implementing the hazard control strategy.

Visit ASHE to access a worksheet on this tool and a link to the original paper, which can be used to develop a complete picture of the WMC-ICRA matrix and more details for each control strategy. The authors recommend that water management teams adapt the framework and tool to fit their policies and needs. 

Erika Wilson regional manager, Phigenics LLC.