The holidays are here and staff are beginning to decorate work areas to create a festive atmosphere. The Occupational Safety and Health Fire and Life Safety Program wants to help in providing a safe work environment.
There are specific requirements for decorations within the hospital, university and all support facilities. Due to the life safety designations of the health care facilities, there are strict guidelines for the use and placement of decorations and natural cut vegetation. This information is being distributed so staff members have plenty of time to properly plan, purchase and place decorations in order to comply with the International Fire Code, National Fire Protection Association Life Safety Code 101 and MUSC policy.
Employees are asked to follow this policy and understand that it will be enforced to minimize fire hazards. All personnel should review the following guidelines prior to purchasing materials and decorating for seasonal holidays:
- Decorations shall not be placed in any area that will obscure an exit or interfere with the path of evacuation. Trees must not be located in corridors or near any source of ignition.
- Candles or other open flame decorations are not allowed.
- Natural cut vegetation and decorations: Natural cut decorations are prohibited in health care facilities. Fire retardant artificial trees that are FM or UL listed and used in accordance with manufacturers' instructions may be authorized on a case-by-case basis. Natural cut Christmas trees, wreaths and garlands will be allowed only in facilities other than health care occupancies if treated with approved flame retardants. Water levels for real trees must be checked and maintained on a regular basis. Vegetation that has dried out shall be immediately removed from the facility. It cannot be placed in or obstruct any means of escape.
- Combustible decorations including, but not limited to, paper cutouts, plastic wall hangings, banners, ornaments and posters are prohibited in health care areas unless of such limited size or quantity that will not contribute to the development or spread of fire. All combustible ornaments and decorations must be treated with a flame retardant. Retardants may deteriorate during storage and handling; therefore, decorations must be retreated at least every five years, with documented proof immediately available. Retardants may be purchased online. Maintain all documentation and the actual container as evidence of the treatment of any decoration. The retardant must be for the material of the decoration.
- Decorations must not be attached to, nor obstruct, ceiling tiles, sprinkler heads, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers or exit signs.
- Corridor doors must not be wrapped with any material nor have excessive decorations attached. The operation of the doors shall not be obstructed in any way.
- Lighting, if used, must adhere to the following conditions: Use only underwriter laboratory (UL) tested and approved cool lamp variety bulbs (manufacturers tag must be attached); use only in constantly monitored areas; attach only to non-metallic, non-combustible surfaces; do not use in patient rooms or areas where oxygen is stored or in use; electrical connections must be free of splices and checked routinely for damage. If any damage is found, remove the item immediately; lighting shall be used only on artificial vegetation in the health care facilities.
- Extension cords are prohibited in MUSC facilities and health care occupancies. An independent laboratory tested and approved (UL) surge protector may be allowed (maximum 6 feet) in constantly monitored areas. Surge protectors shall not be connected in series.
- Plug-in air fresheners and scents are strictly prohibited in health care facilities.
Any decoration not in compliance with the above guidelines must be removed. For additional information, call the Occupational Safety and Health Fire and Life Safety Program 792-3604.