A new coat of paint is one of the best and most affordable ways to overhaul an office space. If you’re a commercial painter, getting a contract to paint the offices of a dentist or doctor, an entire medical practice or a hospital can be a profitable opportunity, but there are some health concerns to consider, including your choice of paint, whether or not the facility will be in use during your painting project, considerations of air quality and the health of patients who may be exposed to fumes. Here are some things to consider to protect the health of your clients and your clients’ patients.
To minimize the risk of paint fumes harming patients, patients tripping over materials, workers jostled while on ladders and a myriad of other chemical and physical safety concerns, schedule work in the evening, on weekends or holidays. If the practice is only open certain days of the week, working on off days is recommended. If the practice is yet to open, the longest gap possible between the prep work and painting and the opening of the facility is best.
Choice of Paint
Emergency rooms, operating rooms and surgical suites must be sterile to safeguard the health of patients. Special wall coatings are required in sterile rooms – this includes semi or high gloss paints and usually epoxy or polyurethane, because these coatings will last through hot water cleanings and vigorous scrubbing. Low-oder and low-VOC and no-VOC paints are preferable because they will not give off fumes or odors, which is safer for patients (and for your employees applying the paint).
If you’re working in a medical or dental facility and there are adjacent offices to where you’re working, or if you’ll be working in some rooms while the facility is open, you will need to address shared air concerns. Simply put, if the fumes from your painting project leak into a shared ventilation system, you are sharing air with other rooms and you need to protect the health and safety of patients and workers in these adjacent offices. Blocking vents and wall gaps that are shared can be an effective approach, or ensuring increased air flow in affected common and adjacent areas is another approach. Ensure there are notices posted letting others in the facility know so they can adjust their vents accordingly and take any safety measures they feel are necessary.
Last, if you’re asked to advise on colors for common areas and patient treatment rooms, here are some things to consider. Faber Birren wrote The Power of Color and says, “Color has one simple but clear effect: Its emotional impact tends to lead to outwardly directed attention. In other words, it is diverting and pleasing. This in itself is good for any patient, for it may offer some relief, even if minor, from inner tensions.” White and pale neutral walls have an overly clinical feel and are off-putting to patients. By contrast, warm colors are a welcome respite. Ceilings in patient rooms should be painted because patients on their back see them. Softer colors are better in treatment room, so save more vibrant colors for waiting rooms, while blues and greens are preferred in surgical suites.
If you’re not sure which paint colors are in vogue, check out this recent article on top interior paint colors trends for 2014. And for more tips on protecting yourself and your employees on the job in addition to the few tips we’ve discussed here, please read this article on major health concerns for painters.