Jul 03 2017

Cardboard Boxes Stored on the Floor

Category: Cardboard,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 12:00 am

Q: Is there a specific code reference in regards to storage of boxes on the floor? I am trying to locate any specific code language for preventing the use of the floor for direct storage of boxed items.

A: I am not aware of any NFPA code or standard that is referenced by the Life Safety Code that would prevent cardboard boxes from being stored on the floor. However, the hospital (or healthcare organization) should have Infection Control guidelines on this issue. Whenever I see this situation in the field it is always referred to the IC practitioner for their decision.

There are two main issues at work whenever cardboard is setting on the floor:

  1. Moisture on the floor could cause rot, mold, and other growth in the cardboard.
  2. Shipping cardboard boxes could contain insect and even vermin which could spread to other areas of the facility.

Please check with your accreditation organization and your state and local health departments to see if they have any regulations preventing cardboard boxes from being stored on the floor.

Mar 08 2017

Corrugated Cardboard Boxes

Category: Cardboard,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 12:00 am

Q: I am pushing to get all corrugated cardboard out of all areas of the hospital – not allowing materials management to send any items out of their department in corrugated cardboard. Is there a specific standard that support this?

A: There is no specific NFPA standard that speaks directly to corrugated cardboard boxes/shipping boxes. This is part of infection control because corrugated cardboard boxes are susceptible to moisture, water, vermin and bacteria during warehouse or storeroom storage, as well as transportation environments. The hospital must provide and maintain a sanitary environment to avoid sources and transmission of infections and communicable diseases and all areas of the hospital must be clean and sanitary. This includes all hospital units, campuses and off-site locations.

Cardboard boxes are manufactured and imported from many areas around the world without means of decontamination, especially for a sterile environment. Also, prior to delivery to a hospital cardboard boxes have been stored in different types of warehouses, with no protection for a sterile environment.  Since cardboard boxes cannot be washed, they cannot be part of your regular required cleaning schedule.

Cardboard boxes are usually delivered to hospital receiving docks from other shipping dock locations on carts or pallets, prior to arriving into a health care facility.  Mice, insects, vermin, dirt with pathogenic organisms can be carried into a hospital within the cardboard boxes used as external shipping cartons.  Also, corrugated cardboard boxes can and do shed particles that contribute to dust in hospital environments, whereby microorganisms can hitch a ride. If corrugated cardboard becomes wet, it becomes a source for bacterial growth.

Please be aware that cardboard boxes and or cardboard shelving units should not be allowed or found in areas such as:

  • OR storerooms
  • Central Supply
  • Clinical areas

Also, do not use cardboard boxes to store items in a dirty utility room. Cardboard boxes should never be used to store patient supplies- as these are considered dirty. You may wish to discuss this issue with the hospital Infection Control person as part of the hospitals routine scheduled environmental surveillance tours.