Cooling system on its way

A cooling system at Lakes District Hospital is due to be operational by the end of this year.

Yesterday, the Otago Daily Times reported WorkSafe had lifted two of three improvement notices issued to the Southern DHB relating to Lakes District Hospital at Frankton.

Those notices, issued early last month, required the DHB to assess if heat stress was a significant risk to its workers and others, and review its processes for mitigation.

In January, during the hottest summer on record, the ODT reported staff at the hospital were working in ``untenable'' conditions in the ageing hospital and feared someone would die if the DHB did not address the issue quickly.

In a statement yesterday, DHB chief executive Chris Fleming said the board had now ``fully satisfied'' compliance with both of those notices.

``We are pleased that the Lakes District Hospital upgrade will provide a long- term solution to controlling the temperature of the building with the installation of a cooling system which is due to be operational by the end of 2018.

``In the event of any delays in the timeframe in installing this cooling system, the DHB will place portable air-conditioning units in the wards and maternal areas at the hospital to aid in reducing the internal air temperature.

``These will be placed appropriately to comply with infection, prevention and control requirements.''

In the interim, short-term controls were in place for when the temperature reached or exceeded 24degC.

Controls included maintaining hydration; increasing rest time; monitoring workers with serious medical conditions, or a disability or who were pregnant; using portable electric fans, where appropriate; and minimising direct heat sources by screening or insulation.

Any problems or concerns were to be reported as soon as practicable.

The DHB has until the end of next month to comply with the third and final improvement notice, relating to health and safety representatives.


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