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Choosing flooring for hospitals and surgeries

688103_77582599When choosing flooring for medical buildings such as doctors’ surgeries and hospitals it is vital to make sure that the choice of flooring is easy to clean on a frequent basis and that it is hygienic.

With that in mind, there are two key choices for hospitals and surgeries: vinyl sheet and safety flooring.

Vinyl flooring is ideal for doctors’ surgeries and hospitals because it is extremely easy to keep clean and maintain. The flooring of doctors’ surgeries and hospitals has to put up with a lot – a large number of people go in and out of doctors’ surgeries to see the doctor, nurse or pick up prescriptions. Stand in a hospital corridor or ward for a short period of time and you will soon realise just how many people are walking up and down. This includes nurses and doctors going from patient to patient, patients moving around, and visitors coming and going to see their relatives. On a rainy day it doesn’t take long before the floor is wet or is covered in moody footprints.

People in doctors’ surgeries and hospitals also handle large amounts of liquids, such as medicines, as well as food and drink in hospitals, so it is not uncommon for there to be spillages. This all poses a threat to people – patients, staff and visitors alike who could slip over, and patients in particular who might be at risk of infection and vulnerable to germs and bacteria. All of these problems on vinyl flooring can be dealt with quickly and easily by using a mop and keeping floors safe and hygienic.

Vinyl flooring is particularly ideal for hospitals and doctors’ surgeries because it doesn’t have any gaps in it – it is just a solid sheet. That means, unlike tile floors which have grouting, there is no space where bacteria can get into and avoid being cleaned, making vinyl flooring a more hygienic option than other types of flooring.

You may also be surprised to learn that vinyl flooring is extremely hard wearing. Many vinyl floors come with a commercial rating, which makes them ideal for hospitals and doctors’ surgeries, allowing the floor to withstand heavy foot traffic.

It isn’t just heavy foot traffic that is an issue in these types of buildings though – there are likely to be large numbers of people with wheelchairs, walking frames and walking sticks, all of which have the potential to damage the floor also. In hospitals there are also likely to be large numbers of stretchers and beds being wheeled around the hospital throughout the day and night. Vinyl flooring is ideal for withstanding all of this activity.

Safety flooring is also ideal for these types of environments. It is very similar to vinyl flooring, being hardwearing and hygienic, very easy to maintain and keep clean, but it is also slip resistant, having an R10 rating. It means that you can regularly mop down the floor to keep it clean and hygienic without having to worry about people slipping, tripping or falling over and injuring themselves.

Finally, you don’t have to use vinyl or safety flooring throughout a hospital or doctors’ surgery. There may be areas where you don’t need it, and may instead prefer to give a feel of warmth and comfort, such as in a hospital chapel, a reception or waiting area, or in consulting rather than treatment areas.

For more information about commercial flooring, click here to read our online introduction to commercial flooring.

Commercial flooring and health & safety

clip_image002The Health and Safety Executive devotes a whole section of their website to slips and trips in the workplace and it is hardly surprising. Slips and trips are the most common cause of injury at work, accounting for almost 40 per cent of all reported major injuries as well as leading to other types of serious accidents, such as falls from heights.

There are a number of factors which can cause slips, all of which employers need to think very carefully about. These are:

  • Footwear
  • Environment
  • Contamination
  • People
  • Cleaning
  • Flooring

Trips are mainly caused by obstructions in walkways but can also be caused by uneven floors. Employers need to be aware of what the law says regarding preventing slips and trips in the workplace. There are three key pieces of Health & Safety legislation in this area:

The HSW Act requires employers to ensure the health and safety of all employees and anyone who may be affected by their work (such as customers, visitors or other members of the public), as far as is reasonably practicable. This includes taking steps to control slip and trip risks, and making sure that they and others are not put in danger.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations state that employers must carry out risk assessments, including assessing the risk of slips and trips, and taking action where necessary.

The Workplace Regulations require floors to be suitable, in good condition and free from obstructions, and people should be able to move about safely. Section 12 specifically covers the conditions of floors and traffic routes in the workplace and states that:

“Every floor in a workplace and the surface of every traffic route in a workplace shall be of a construction such that the floor or surface of the traffic route is suitable for the purpose for which it is used.”

It goes on to say that:

“The floor, or surface of the traffic route, shall have no hole or slope, or be uneven or slippery so as, in each case, to expose any person to a risk to his health or safety.”

In short, these regulations mean that the floor in a workplace must be suitable for the type of work activity taking place on it, and that where a floor is likely to be subject to frequent contamination, people should still be able to walk on it without the risk of slipping.

Choosing which type of flooring is best for your business is therefore vital to ensure that you are fulfilling your health and safety obligations to your employees and to members of the public. Different types of commercial flooring will be appropriate for different industries, so it is important to discuss your needs with your flooring company to make sure you stay safe.

For more information about choosing appropriate commercial flooring, please click here to read our online guide.