Flooring In Healthcare – There’s A Lot At Stake
Richard Peace, Altro’s new product development manager, looks at key considerations when specifying flooring for healthcare:
CHOOSING flooring for healthcare needs careful consideration. There are so many different applications – from operating theatres and A&E to reception and waiting areas, not to mention stairs, wetrooms, catering areas and corridors.
There’s also the need for the most stringent hygiene and safety, as well as an aesthetically-pleasing healing environment, not to mention the real risk of litigation if you get it wrong.
n Safety: We can’t over-emphasise the importance of sustained slip-resistance if you’re specifying flooring. The HSE’s minimum standard of slip resistance for areas where safety matters is PTV>36.
However, will the floor continue to perform over a sustained period of time? Even if you choose flooring that meets the requirements when first laid, you could still find yourself facing litigation if that flooring loses slip-resistance with use. Tests show that flooring with a lifetime sustained slip-resistance of PTV>36 has odds of anyone slipping or falling of one in a million.
Safety flooring that meets the HSE standard when fitted but loses slip resistance over time can make the odds of a slip, potentially leading to a fall, as high as one in two. For safety in wet areas, consider slip-resistance for staff and patients in a variety of shoes and barefoot.
n Hygiene: In environments like operating theatres, acute care and sterile areas, there’s an increasing emphasis on aseptic regimes to combat resistant infection. This means floors, wall, doors and ceilings must be totally cleanable and resistant to most chemicals and staining. Resistance to inorganic and organic chemicals, spillages and wastes is essential in almost all healthcare applications.
Choose an integrated system of products that are proven to work together; it will make cleaning easier and more cost-effective.
It’s also important once the installation is complete to ensure that the end user gets the right information on cleaning and maintaining their new surfaces.
n Durability: In many healthcare applications, you need flooring with long term resistance to wear, abrasion, point-loading and impact, especially from wheeled traffic such as trolleys or mobile equipment.
Heavy duty, resilient safety flooring at least 2.5mm thick or durable resins can be sensible choices. Look for long warranties so you can offer end users peace of mind on performance over time, and consider life cycle costs as well as initial outlay.
n Static interference: You need static build-up protection for flooring to be used in operating theatres or other environments with sensitive electronic equipment. Static-dissipative safety flooring or resin flooring can help avoid hazards from anaesthetic gases and protect electronics from EMI and static interference.
n Acoustics: In many healthcare applications, acoustic flooring can be used to reduce noise in key areas to improve the well-being of all patients and staff.
n Aesthetics: Modern healthcare environments place aesthetics high on the agenda. A welcoming, relaxing atmosphere is needed to reduce stress and promote healing, with clear wayfinding and signage.
n Inclusive design: The Equality Act (2010) sets out current requirements for disabled access. The aim is to enable optimum orientation and movement through buildings for visually impaired or disabled people.
What this means in practice for specifying flooring, is that you need to consider slip resistance, texture, colour, pattern, contrast resilience and acoustics of any materials you use. Seek a manufacturer, like Altro, who can provide a lot more information on all these areas. www.altro.co.uk
This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at www.contractflooringjournal.co.uk.