Design for Safety
Worksite Redesign Technical Advisory Project
Table of Contents
Design Considerations for Living areas:
Design configuration and details of major living spaces must address the needs of intended users and their staff.
Air filtration should be considered to reduce respiratory ailments and sharing colds between staff and residents.
In all cases, the room must:
Be open visually to promote staff-to-resident visual contact
Be well-lit and ventilated, both naturally and mechanically
Be heated and air-conditioned to maintain an even temperature of 70° at 1' above the floor
Create a setting that supports a sense of community
Support and encourage staff to fully participate in creation of a home
Provide adequate space for movement and turning
Provide floor coverings and finishes that are hygienic and support movement by staff
If wheelchairs or equipment must be moved around, hard surfaces are the best choice in flooring. Carpeting and rugs raise issues of hygiene and safety. Rugs present problems for residents and staff where resident mobility is impaired by introducing unwanted friction. Hygiene is dangerously compromised and, in some cases, replacement is the only solution. Replacement of carpets is highly undesirable since off-gas from new carpets presents serious and unnecessary lung-irritant exposure to both residents and staff. If carpets are used, choose commercial grade, vinyl-backed carpeting that is antibacterial-treated.
Vinyl composition tile, composition wood, tile, and even cork should be considered as better flooring choices. These materials reduce the amount of force required to move equipment. In all cases, floors must be maintained per the manufacturers' specifications.
Furnishings such as bookcases, vertical entertainment centers, and plant shelves, must be secured to prevent accidental tipping. In general, choose furniture that has rounded edges or softened corners, and that is solid and easy to keep clean. Built-in shelves and cabinets often save floor space.
Whenever possible, two separate living spaces are preferred to one. This affords the opportunity of separating activities, behaviors or functions. Injuries can often be prevented by physical separation. This also keeps bedrooms from becoming living areas because no other option exists.
Consideration should be given to protecting staff and/or residents from injuries sustained from falling accidents. Padding fireplaces and hearths, tables and shelf corners is desirable.
Adequate room for movement, turning and work performance must be provided. Constrained work space supports poor lifting and movement by staff. Dining areas especially require ample room for serving, assisting, arrival, departure and clean-up.
Living areas create a setting that supports a sense of community. Design features should promote both staff and residents to participate in the home environment. Designs that provide abundant natural light and open space invite participants to use the space. Due to the special needs of many residents, care must always be taken to allow for turning radiuses for wheelchairs and equipment, and safe side-by-side access for staff attending to residents. Safe, hygienic floor coverings and finishes promote ease of cleaning and maintenance for staff, thus allowing more time with residents. Designs that feature maximum visual contact of residents by staff from adjacent rooms or hall areas promote safety.
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