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ILSM - Temporary Construction Barriers

Do plastic sheets constitute acceptable temporary barriers in and around construction areas?

Any examples are for illustrative purposes only

Unrated flammable plastic sheets (such as Visqueen), do not constitute acceptable temporary barriers. Even though flammable plastic sheets taped across an opening may form a dust seal, they are incapable of controlling fire. The only thing they can do is keep air and particulate from moving to unwanted locations. Therefore, they are good for infection control, and on a limited basis, for resisting smoke passage caused by a fire, friction or welding/brazing in the construction zone. But these sheet types do nothing to stop the fire itself.  

The Joint Commission standards require that temporary construction partitions be smoke tight and built of noncombustible or limited combustible materials (sheet rock, gypsum board) that will not contribute to the development or spread of fire." Ensure that evidence of "limited combustibility" can be furnished if questioned during survey or other inspection.  

The Joint Commission position is that plastic sheet barriers of a limited combustible type (rated material) can be used for a short-term application. In addition, if the project includes any high-risk construction activities (i.e., torch cutting, welding, burning, open flame, etc.), non-combustible barriers should be erected. 

Reference EC.02.06.05 EP3  
Manual: Ambulatory
Chapter: Environment of Care EC
First published date: April 11, 2016 This Standards FAQ was first published on this date.
This page was last updated on October 27, 2021

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