Holiday Decorating – Keep Safety in Mind and Keep Your Healthcare Facility Compliant
It is an annual tradition in many healthcare organizations – decorating patient units and common areas for the holidays. There is ample research on the psychosocial benefits of holiday decorating of healthcare facilities.
Relevant Federal Regulations and Joint Commission Standards
That said, safety – in particular – fire safety, must be at the forefront of consideration when decorating. Below is a summary of some of the key Federal regulations as well as Joint Commission standards to consider when decorating a healthcare facility.
- Healthcare facilities are required to comply with the 2012 edition of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 2012 edition of the Life Safety Code and NPFA’s 2012 edition of the Health Care Facilities Code. NFPA standards that address holiday decorating include: NFPA 101-2012: 18/22.214.171.124, NFPA 101-2012: 20/126.96.36.199.
- Joint Commission EC.02.03.01 requires hospitals to manage fire risks. Paper decorations, crepe paper, dried holiday wreaths, cardboard boxes wrapped like presents, metal and live Christmas trees, garland, and menorahs with open flames are all examples of decorations that may be combustible. Therefore, they create a fire risk.
- Joint Commission LS.02.01.70 also addresses decoration attached to doors and walls.
Check Local and State Regulations
In addition to the above regulations and standards, organizations should also check your local and state regulations that may have more restrictive requirements. Additionally, the following strategies are considered best practices:
- Evaluate all holiday decorations for fire safety.
- Use common communication tools (newsletters, email, posters) to remind staff of decorations policies.
- Distribute a checklist to patient care unit managers to ensure documentation of the evaluation of holiday decorations for safety.
- Inspect all decorations, marking them (e.g., place a tag on garland, wreaths) to simplify future inspections.
This notice included an example policy and procedure regarding the use of Holiday decorations in healthcare facilities. Sign up for a FREE TRIAL of StayAlert! to access the policy and procedure.
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