In the Minimum Standards for Veterinary Facilities in Ontario, there is a requirement for a hospital to have a gas scavenging system contained in the anesthesia area which complies with the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). This standard is in the spirit of adhering to the main purpose of OHSA which is to protect workers from health and safety hazards on the job.
Waste anesthetic gases (WAG) are anesthetic vapours, that leak into the surrounding environment and can result in worker exposure. The sources of WAG are leaks from anesthetic equipment, improper installation of scavenging systems, leaks from patient’s masks and exhalation of gases by patients. Short term exposure to WAG can cause fatigue, drowsiness and headache. Anesthetic gases cannot be detected by odour until their concentrations are much higher than occupational exposure limits. Therefore, the proper maintenance of the gas scavenging system plays a valuable role in protecting you and your veterinary team members.
To assist facility directors in complying with this requirement, the Accreditation Committee of the College has clarified that at inspection, the facility director is expected to provide documentation to an accreditation inspector that the gas scavenging system has been inspected and verified by a qualified technician from an independent third-party company within the previous 24 months or within the timeframe recommended by the manufacturer.
The Accreditation Inspectors will continue to also inspect:
hose connections for obstructions or kinks.
tubing connected to the exterior of the building for vent coverage.
local exhaust or room ventilation to ensure that it is functional.
charcoal filters to determine if they are checked and/or replaced on a regular basis by veterinary facility staff.
It is a reasonable expectation for facility directors to ensure the safety of hospital staff, clients and patients based on the hazards that exist in the hospital. Effective scavenging of waste anesthetic gas is a crucial method of decreasing exposure in the veterinary practice.