Every aspect of nurse call equipment is simultaneously regulated by federal executive departments and agencies, as well as by professional membership associations. The call/pull cord portion of nurse call equipment is regulated directly by the U.S. Department of Labor through its Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
OSHA regulates nurse call/pull cords through the Occupational Safety and Health Standards that are found in Title 29 CFR Part 1910. Private professional membership associations actually write many of the OSHA standards. Standard section1910.7 adopts and enforces all the safety requirements of certain associations known as Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories. One NRTL is Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. One of the UL standards adopted and enforced by OSHA is the UL Standard for Safety for Hospital Signaling and Nurse Call Equipment.
Types of Nurse Call/Pull Cords
UL 1069 defines several different types of nurse call/pull cords. The standard call/pull cord involves a switch pendant control attached to a cord at the patient station. The patient either depresses a button on the switch pad to call the nurse's station, or an alert is sent if the cord becomes detached from the patient's station. The geriatric call/pull cord uses a pressure pendant control instead of a switch pendant control for elderly patients who find it difficult to press a button. Two waterproof call/pull cords are used in bath and shower stations. They are activated either when the call/pull cord is pulled or when it is detached from the station.
The OHSA/UL standards require that call/pull cords be totally enclosed in insulating material that is both impact-resistant and flame-retardant. The ampacity of the involved current requires wiring of at least 0.32 mm2 in size for up to five conductors, and at least 0.21 mm2 in size for up to 10 conductors. Devices with more than 10 conductions require 0.13 mm2 wiring.
The standards permit only certain specially designed call/pull cords in oxygen-enriched hospital environments. These call/pull cords are marked: "Note – May Be Used by Patients Undergoing Oxygen Therapy – Hang On Hook (In Holder) When Not In Use" in at least 3/32-inch lettering. They must also be marked with large caution and emergency signs printed in red and yellow lettering.