A HUGE 55% of all accidents in education are caused by a slip, trip or fall. Choosing the right flooring can make schools safer for everyone, contractors included.
Employers and organisations have a duty of care to every employee, student and visitor within their establishment. What’s more, the responsibility for creating a safe environment lies with the specifier, the supplier and the client, which means that if you work with customers in the education sector to help them decide what products to use where, then you need to know what’s what.
So, where are your risk areas?: These could typically include slopes, steps, heavy traffic circulation areas, play and activity areas, kitchens, student union bars, launderettes, laboratories, art, technology and computer suites.
On their own, these busy areas present a significant risk. This risk increases when you factor in the behaviour of the young, who, let’s face it, often don’t appreciate their role in accident prevention.
Another risk is contamination by water, food, litter and chemicals, all of which can affect the performance of the floor if the potential risks they pose are not considered. Understanding how different areas will be used and maintained is therefore crucial in product selection.
For many areas within education, a good quality safety flooring with sustained slip resistance for the lifetime of the product will provide the level of performance needed. However, there are some areas that do require more specialist solutions.
In kitchens, canteens and food preparation areas, where grease, oils or fats may be present, you should always choose a specialist flooring with very high slip resistance for the lifetime of the flooring. We suggest a PTV of 55 or above, or R12 rating.
Toilets, wetrooms and shower and changing areas also require specialist flooring. Opt for safety flooring with lifetime sustained slip-resistance in wet and dry environments, and for shoe and barefoot use.
Storerooms for PE equipment, chairs or cleaning products, science laboratories and chemical stores all need flooring which is robust and durable. At Altro we are fans of heavy duty safety flooring – 2.5mm thick or more.
The extra 0.5mm may not sound like much but it’s an increase of 25% thickness on standard safety flooring and is therefore significantly more robust. Lab stools and moveable equipment can take their toll on your floor unless it provides high levels of point loading resistance and resilience.
These areas are also prone to spillages which can include a combination of wet or dry contaminants; you therefore need sustained slip, chemical and staining resistance.
Art, craft and technology areas present unique demands. The presence of contaminants such as clay, paint, chalk and dirt means an increased level of slip resistance is required – you should look for a – PTV of 45 or greater, and an R11 slip rating, as well as 2.5mm thickness to tolerate heavy equipment and high levels of point loading.
High traffic areas in secondary schools, sixth forms and universities will also benefit from heavier duty safety flooring.
A rule of thumb, so to speak, is that the bigger the foot, the more durable the floor requirement. With many universities catering for 40,000 students and more, the demands on flooring in higher education have never been tougher.
The good news is that modern 2.5mm safety flooring is available in a wide range of colours and finishes for all requirements, and with PUR technology for easier cleaning and maintenance.
Even better news is that choosing good quality flooring really does pay off long term. You may have seen that we’ve recently extended warranties on all our 2.5mm ranges to 20 years, and the sustained slip resistance and life expectancy to 25 years, due to the performance of our products in real life situations for more than 30 years. www.altro.co.uk
David Cockhead is Altro’s quality and compliance advisor
This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal. You can find them at www.contractflooringjournal.co.uk.