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Don’t let safety slip

When it comes to healthcare settings, Craig Thornhill looks at the key areas to consider when choosing a safety flooring.

WHEN it comes to the healthcare setting, making sure the right building materials are used for the job is paramount. Keeping staff and patients safe is vital and flooring can play a crucial role. Here, I’ll look at the key areas to consider when choosing a safety flooring.

On average A&E departments in England see 16 million attendances throughout the year. With this in mind, it’s important any flooring used in a healthcare setting can not only withstand this heavy footfall but also help to maintain the safety of those using it.

With the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reporting the top reason for non-fatal injuries to employees as being ‘slips, trips or falls on the same level’, choosing safety flooring correctly is of great importance. This is where graded slip-resistant flooring (safety flooring) can make a big difference. There are two main testing methods used to grade safety flooring and understanding how these methods work can be useful.

The predominant method is the pendulum test, which is recommended by the HSE to assess slip resistance of flooring surfaces. This test is conducted by a swinging arm that sweeps over the flooring surface, the arm is slowed by friction and indicates a value with a pointer – this is your Pendulum Test Value (PTV). A PTV of 36 or higher is classified as low slip risk and is therefore the recommended level for the best slip protection.

The second method for testing slip resistance is the ‘Ramp Test’, mainly referred to as the R rating. In this test a subject is attached, with a safety harness, to a ramp that’s lubricated with oil. The angle of the ramp is then raised, and the tester will take small steps backwards and forwards in boots until they slip.

A computerised readout will then determine the R rating with the scale starting at R9 as a minimum and increasing to the maximum of R13. The speed with which flooring can be installed is also an important factor, when it comes to specification. Refurbishment works will understandably require the temporary closure or limited access to the specific area, with this downtime leading to significant disruption to staff, patients and visitors.

Understandably so, this is less than ideal for the healthcare sector and so using products that are quick and easy to install is recommended. For example, Forbo’s Surestep Fast Fit isn’t only an HSE-compliant safety flooring, it’s also installed using a double-sided plasticiser tape, making the installation process much easier and faster when compared to traditional adhesives – which need a potentially lengthy curing time.

The flooring can be used and walked on immediately after installation, further minimising the downtime needed. To conclude, choosing the right safety flooring not only keeps staff and patients safe, by preventing slips and falls, but can also minimise the downtime needed for installation.
To find out more on Forbo’s Surestep Fast Fit, visit Forbo’s website.
Craig Thornhill is technical services manager from Forbo Flooring Systems

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