Minimizing risk in hospitals with best flooring practices

By Kendall Youngworth / Special to Healthcare Facilities Today
March 25, 2019

From scrub areas to patient wards, nurse stations, operating rooms and pharmacies, hospitals have a diverse range of room types and facility needs.  

Yet one thing is common amongst them all, they endure high levels of both pedestrian and wheeled or vehicular traffic. Patients, staff, equipment, gurneys and supplies are constantly moving or being moved. In such environments, high-performance, durable flooring is critical in terms of reliability, safety and longevity. Hospitals are open 24-7, leaving no time for undesirable disruption, let alone an environment that is potentially unsafe to its patients, their families and employees.

Sanitation and hygiene

One of the most important risk factors within hospitals or other healthcare facilities is the potential for cross contamination or any type of infectious outbreak. Therefore, the highest standards of sanitation and hygiene must be maintained.

To this end, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Board (HICPAC), as well as state and local agencies have stringent guidelines regarding protocols for maintaining these standards.

What types of preventive measures can help minimize these risks?

Proper flooring can play a key role in helping minimize various types of risks. Unlike tile, or VCT which contain porous grout lines and small spaces between the installed tiles, resinous floor coating systems are applied direct to the concrete substrate, creating a virtually seamless floor.  Each layer of the system can be applied at onetime to cover the entire area, thus eliminating the presence of porous areas and crevices where bacteria and other pathogens can accumulate and grow.

They can also be installed with wall-to-floor cove base, which eliminates nooks and crannies between the floor and walls where microbes can proliferate. In areas where standing water or liquids can accumulate, a slope-to-drain option can be installed. This option helps reduce standing water, which in turn helps against slip and fall accidents, bacteria growth and it make for quick and easy clean up.

Traction control

In general, hospital staff—with or without machinery, equipment, supplies or wheeled vehicles—are not known for moving particularly slowly. They are typically committed to providing the highest standard of care for their patients, and this often involves timely, if not emergency, arrivals and deliveries.

Between rapid movements, the potential for tracking in ice, snow, rain, slush, etc. from the inclement outdoors and spillage of various substances, there is risk of slip-and-fall accidents.

Proper cleaning and maintenance can go a long way in helping create a safe flooring surface, but a floor that consistently delivers the proper skid resistance and traction control is of high importance.

This can be provided by virtually all epoxy-based flooring systems through the addition of additives. For starters, decorative flooring options such as quartz and flake, provide their own natural texture and traction in and of itself. Decorative quartz are small colored sand granules, while decorative flakes are vinyl chips, offered in small, medium and large sizes.  Both options are available in a multitude of colors and customized color blends when requested.

If additional traction is still required, or if installing a non-flake or quartz system, glass beads can be broadcast directly into the coating system to achieve light, medium or heavy traction, and they are available in different sizes. The larger the grit size, the more aggressive the traction, the smaller the grit size, the less aggressive the traction.

The amount of additive can easily be adjusted to suit the needs of any environment or area, from a highly trafficked entryway or lobby to a less-traveled pharmacy back room to the following healthcare facility areas:

• Helicopter landing pad

• Kitchen

• Lab

• Mechanical rooms

• Morgue

• Operating room

• Patient rooms/corridors

• Restrooms/locker rooms

• Stairwell

• Waiting rooms

Electrostatic control

Sensitive electronic equipment is highly susceptible to shocks from static electricity. It can take a mere 25 volts to damage such equipment, risking inaccurate readings from which critical diagnoses are made.

Electrostatic dissipative (ESD) and conductive flooring can help protect delicate equipment. ESD and conductive flooring are rated by their surface resistance and knowing the properties of the materials in the environment in which they will be installed are necessary for selecting the right product or system.

Always look for an experienced installer

While epoxy and urethane flooring are an excellent choice for installation in hospitals and healthcare facilities, choosing a reliable, specially trained installer is also important.  Especially when seeking advice on traction control, the use of ESD flooring, chemical resistant products, the various types of decorative flooring options and more.

Kendall Youngworth is a Senior Marketing Specialist at Tennant Coatings.

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