South West Hospital & Health Service – Condition Audits and Electrical Infrastructure Upgrade

South West Hospital and Health Service (SWHHS) was experiencing maintenance difficulties at their remote hospital sites as a result of electrical services being discontinued and no longer complying with current legislation.
Many of their electrical services were reaching their end-of-life and posed ongoing reliability issues. In addition, as increasing technology services in the hospitals needed to be supported, the existing generators had insufficient capacity to provide suitable back-up power.
SWHHS’s desire was to bring the electrical infrastructure at each hospital up to code and equip them with the latest technology.
Identifying outdated electrical infrastructure and services

DMA Engineers was engaged to conduct electrical infrastructure condition audits of the following SWHHS remote hospitals: Augathella, Cunnamulla, Dirranbandi, Mitchell, and Mungindi.  Following these audits, we then undertook the design of the electrical infrastructure and services upgrades at each hospital site.

The electrical infrastructure condition audit reports highlighted that the sites contained ageing infrastructure which was either at or approaching the end of its economic life.  SWHHS was seeking to address the issues associated with ageing infrastructure and for our team to design and document the resulting upgrades.

The audit reports identified that most of the electrical infrastructure needed upgrading. Some critical focus areas that were identified included:

  • Back-up power was insufficient and unable to service the needs of the hospitals. SWHHS was seeking to provide back-up power to a larger percentage of the hospitals as part of the electrical infrastructure upgrade.
  • Electrical distribution boards and outlets were reaching end of life and required replacing. These boards were also form 1 or 2 boards, which could not provide the required protection of outgoing circuits.
  • Electrical distribution boards were not fitted with surge diverters and made them vulnerable to surges.
  • Sites were non-compliant with AS/NZS 3003 and Australasian Health Facility Guidelines which require that patient areas be protected by RCDs located in those areas and not in the distribution boards. Cardiac protection required the installation of RCDs within the patient locations.  TV power outlets and other power outlets needed to be located out of the 5000mm patient location or provided with their own RCDs as per AS/NZS 3003.
  • Lighting largely consisted of fluorescent lights which need to be replaced with LED lights and cleanroom and cyanosis fittings in exam and emergency rooms and kitchens.
Out with the old, in with the new

As a result of the audit, we identified and prioritised the following items for upgrade:

  • Replacing the existing main switchboards and distribution boards as well as upgrading the generators. This accommodated maximum backup supply to ensure that hospital services would remain largely unaffected by any interruptions to power supply. The electrical loads were data logged to determine which loads were too large to accommodate and therefore placed on the non-essential sections of distribution boards. Essential distribution boards were increased in pole count and electrical supply to accommodate a larger percentage of services served off back-up power.
  • Body protection areas were upgraded to ensure standards compliance.
  • All fluorescent lighting to be replaced with LED lighting as the existing lighting could no longer be guaranteed to meet cleanliness requirements, and ongoing maintenance costs were a concern. This included upgrading existing fluorescent lighting in operating theatres, emergency rooms and kitchens to new cleanroom IP rated and cyanosis fittings. Most lights would have high CRI giving staff better colour rendering. New cleanroom helped to maintain required sterility.
Meeting adjusted scope with timely deliverables

DMA presented our audit findings to SWHHS in 2017, with the majority of our recommendations being accepted to take forward for planned upgrades throughout 2018. We are currently in the process of implementing these upgrades, with expected completion across all sites in late 2018. Throughout this process we have assisted SWHHS by providing timely responses to issues found on site and have sought to accommodate all requests for revised design documentation when additional scope has been added to the project.


For more information on this project, please contact us.