Home' News Bulletin : ADA News Bulletin October 2015 Contents 12 OCTOBER 2015
Infection control aspects
of dental sterilising room
construction or refurbishment
When considering renovations to existing sterilising rooms or
construction of a new facility, the design process should consider
contemporary requirements for infection control, as well as work,
health and safety, function (efficiency) and ergonomics in order
to be fit for purpose.
Guidance on this matter can be found in AS/NZS 4187:2014
section 5.6.2 Facility Design and Appendix A5.6 -- Reprocessing
With regard to the overall sterilisation room design, the cleaning
process must flow in one direction from the contaminated ('dirty')
area to the clean area, and provide an environment that minimises
the risk from cross contamination of a cleaned, disinfected and
sterilised instrument, handpiece or other device.
Within the sterilising room, there needs to be distinct physical
demarcation between 'clean' and 'dirty' zones, to reduce the
possibility of cross-contamination of a cleaned, disinfected and
A typical sterilising flow pathway can be divided into a number of
• a receiving area;
• a cleaning area, which includes the ultrasonic cleaner, thermal
disinfector/instrument washer, handpiece lubricating system, and
the deep sinks used for rinsing;
• a sorting area, where items can be assembled and packaged as
• a sterilising area, where the steam sterilisers (autoclaves) are
• an area for items to cool after removal from the steriliser; and
• a dedicated area for the storage of items that have been
sterilised. This latter area may be outside of the sterilising room.
The location and depth of the instrument rinsing sink(s) needs
careful consideration, to avoid overhanging shelves and cupboards
for example. The sinks for cleaning need to be of sufficient depth
and size to allow instruments to be completely submersed.
Thought should be given to the ergonomic design of the sinks
where practicable. AS/NZS 4187 mentions that consideration
should be made to the installation of height adjustable sinks.
Taps on sinks can be fitted with aerators, which when coupled
with a deep sink sill, reduce splashing. Beside the sinks there must
be sufficient bench space to facilitate a unidirectional work flow
of the cleaned items. When designing a sterilising room, plan
for both instrument cleaning sinks and handwashing sinks, since
these must be separate, as it is not permissible to use instrument
cleaning sinks for hand hygiene.
Consideration should be given to the movement of staff in and out
of the sterilising room. The entrance or passageway into the area
should be sufficiently wide to allow two people to pass in opposite
directions without their arms colliding. A suggested minimum
width (based on current construction standards for doorways) is
810 mm. If the sterilisation room is in the middle of a cluster of
operatories, having two doors or entrances would be appropriate.
Flooring material used in the sterilising room must be a sealable,
non-slip material which is washable. Welded vinyl is commonly
used for floors, as it is leak-proof in the event of the inevitable
splashes of water or other fluids that will occur. Coving the vinyl
up the walls a short distance (e.g. 75 mm) contains fluid spills and
simplifies cleaning. If welded vinyl is not used, the flooring material
has to provide a smooth, impermeable and seamless covering of
the underlying floor. These physical requirements exclude the use
of carpeting and ceramic floor tiles.
The horizontal dimensions of the bench tops need to be adequate
for instrument reception, holding, sorting, cleaning, inspection,
and packaging, as well as for items such as handpiece cleaning/
lubricating systems, and heat sealers. Shelving should be smooth,
easy to clean and at appropriate heights for safe manual handling
of any items placed on these shelves.
"...the design process should consider
contemporary requirements for
infection control, as well as work,
health and safety..."
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