Healthy Floors. Healthy People.

by Tania Wannenburg
FloorworX healthcare Jnl 5 16

FlooworX offers an array of specialised product offerings unique to the healthcare environment.

Demands on healthcare facilities are extremely complex. This is particularly evident due to the fact that most healthcare establishments need to provide and accommodate numerous functions under one roof, and under particularly highly sensitive conditions. It is also important to create an atmosphere of wellbeing in the entire hospital which positively supports healing processes and creates a sense of comfort for patients, healthcare personnel and visitors.

The right floor finish plays an integral role in achieving interior comfort goals in the healthcare environment. Comfort can be achieved through the correct choice of floor finish by addressing various areas of concern, including (but not limited to) underfoot comfort, acoustics, colour, hygiene and safety, the amount and routes of foot and wheeled traffic, as well as the maintenance and subsequent lifespan of the floorcovering in question.

FloorworX has over 60 years’ experience in the South African flooring industry and can offer specifiers sound advice and a myriad of floor solutions for the healthcare environment. These solutions are able to address the various requirements and functions within the South African healthcare sector. Apart from locally manufactured, tried and tested vinyl tiles and sheeting – which has been used extensively in hospitals all over South Africa – FloorworX also supplies the South African market with world-class healthcare floor solutions from trusted international partners, including specialised rubber products from Nora (based in Germany) and various heterogeneous vinyl, linoleum and even flocked flooring products from Forbo (based in Holland and France).

High walking comfort – also known as underfoot comfort – is achieved by using floor finishes with a high level of resilience and good footfall sound absorption. Products that offer these qualities are particularly appreciated in corridors. Such properties also affect the achievement of “good sound” within a building. Architectural acoustics refer to the manipulation of sound in buildings. In the healthcare environment, it involves efforts to suppress noise to make the internal environment more productive and a pleasant space to work and be treated in. FloorworX offers a full range of floor solutions in various finishes and acoustic ratings to accommodate the widespread requirements in underfoot comfort and acoustic performance in hospitals and clinics.

The use of colour in healthcare environments also affect the comfort levels of patients, staff and visitors. Colours may possess calming properties, influence the sense of spaciousness, affect thermal comfort and may even affect the psychological judgment of time passage. The choice of colour in healthcare environments are therefore very important. Different areas will often require different colour schemes, and the role of LRV’s (light reflectance values) of the floor finish also needs to be taken into account. The rule of thumb is that lighter colours have higher LRV’s and adequate contrasts of high and low LRV’s are usually required for safe and visually pleasing healthcare interiors. The type of healthcare provided would also impact the use of colours as well as LRV’s, e.g. a Migraine Clinic might choose to use finishes with lower LRV’s because migraine patients often suffer from light sensitivity, whereas paediatric units will normally use brighter colours and LRV contrasts to keep younger patients entertained and stimulated.

One of the biggest concerns in terms of floor solutions in the healthcare environment is hygiene and safety. A hygienic floor is an important factor in preventing the spread of infections in hospitals, and also adds to healthy indoor air quality for occupants.

Safety in healthcare facilities is two-fold.  Firstly, safety from infections, diseases and biohazards are important. Secondly, safety while navigating through the hospital in order to prevent injury due to slips and trips. (Coincidentally, slips and trips have been said to be the most common cause of workplace injuries.) By addressing both sides of the safety concern, as well as impeccable hygiene, FloorworX offers products which exceed local and international hygiene and safety standards. These solutions include products with high-density surfaces (which prove impenetrable) by dirt and disease and are easily cleaned with minimal effort and chemicals; products with special bacteria protection, and products with varying slip resistance ratings to ensure patient, staff and visitor safety in all aspects.

Healthcare facilities are known as high traffic interiors and require floor solutions that are able to take the punch. There are various factors influencing the wearability (also known as abrasion resistance) of floor products. These vary between the different types of floor finishes. In homogeneous products it is usually surface finishes (e.g. as polyurethane sealers). In heterogeneous products it is usually the construction of the product (e.g. thickness and type of wear layer). In natural linoleum products it is usually special application UV-cured applied wear layers (e.g. Topshield² in the Marmoleum range from Forbo), and in specialised rubber it is usually the resilience and density of the product surface. FloorworX supplies a wide range of floor solutions with the best to offer in terms of abrasion resistance.

Lastly, in hospitals and clinics the best type of maintenance is of course low maintenance – but this does not mean “no maintenance”. FloorworX supplies specialised maintenance solutions through a selection of products to assist the healthcare industry.

The key to successful floor maintenance is consistency. Adhering to the maintenance requirements (whether daily, weekly or occasional maintenance procedures) will prolong the lifespan of the floor and also keep regular maintenance at a consistent level. Floors that are not maintained and left to face the stringent requirements of the healthcare sector without the required care will in most cases progressively deteriorate, requiring time-consuming, high-labour renewal processes to restore them to the necessary condition.

Just like people, floors need to be kept healthy by being maintained at the required intervals with the correct maintenance regimes in order to live long, useful lives.

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