A look at the law on smoking at veterinary clinics
It's pretty clear by now that secondhand smoke isn't healthy. Many veterinary hospitals and some cities and states have prohibited smoking in buildings. This may solve some problems, but there are still situations when you may need to take action. For instance, if staff members congregate outside the back door to smoke, nearby HVAC ducts or other mechanical equipment may reintroduce the smoke into the building. Also, if there are enough smokers in that area, the exit is in essence "blocked" because nonsmokers can't be forced to use any area where smoking is allowed.
Generally speaking, smoking areas must be enclosed and exhausted directly to the outside. Federal guidelines recommend that contaminated exhaust air be transported outside through ducts under negative pressure to avoid leakage. In order to maintain this negative pressure, the HVAC system or exhaust fans must blow out more air than is supplied by intake vents. There's no regulation yet on this subject, but my money is on OSHA taking action in the near future. With states already banning indoor smoking in public places, the political climate seems to be such that the agency could reintroduce this issue with little resistance.
Phil Seibert, CVT, is an author, speaker, and consultant with SafetyVet in Calhoun, Tenn. Send questions or comments to [email protected]