Fatigue impacts staff performance
The causes of exhaustion among staff are not limited to noise. For caregivers and members of the housekeeping staff, hard, unforgiving flooring surfaces can perpetuate physical fatigue and negatively impact performance by limiting the ability to perform personal and work-related activities. Musculoskeletal injuries are chronic in nature, and the result can be reduced productivity and increased absenteeism, opportunities for errors, and costs associated with workers’ compensation, retraining, and retention.
Premium rubber is especially resilient, easing the stress of walking and standing while ensuring comfort underfoot and allowing nurses to concentrate on their patients rather than the pain in their feet.
HAIs and maintenance needs
When it comes to creating safer spaces, healthcare settings demand flooring that can be efficiently cleaned and disinfected. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey, based on a large sample of U.S. acute-care hospitals, found one in 25 hospital patients had at least one HAI. (Visit www.cdc.gov/hai/surveillance/index.html for more.) A separate CDC study of medical costs estimates the overall annual direct medical costs of HAIs to U.S. hospitals ranges from $35.7 to $45 billion. (More on this study is available at www.cdc.gov/hai/pdfs/hai/scott_costpaper.pdf.) Thus, it is important to note the performance characteristics of extremely dense, closed-surface premium rubber flooring, which is inherently dirt-repellent, and neither serves as a media to micro-organisms nor encourages or produces bacteria. This allows it to support the drivers of infection control in the built environment.
Additionally, premium rubber flooring does not contain any added antimicrobials, which means the flooring is free of pesticides and chemicals. Antimicrobials have two major uses:
- to disinfect, sanitize, reduce, or mitigate the growth or development of microbiological organisms; and
- to protect inanimate objects (e.g. floors and walls) from contamination, fouling, or deterioration caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, or algae.
However, in a 2003 study, CDC stated, “There is no evidence to suggest products with added antimicrobials prevent disease.” (Visit healthybuilding.net/news/2014/01/08/fda-acts-on-antimicrobials to read more.)
Following up on this report, Kaiser Permanente, an integrated managed care consortium based in Oakland, CA, consulted with infectious-disease experts. The infection prevention community agreed with CDC’s findings that properly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces will kill pathogens effectively and mitigate the risk of spreading HAIs. As a result, in 2015, Kaiser banned 15 antimicrobial chemicals and elements as additives to furnishings and finishes in the built environment as a component of its Environmentally Preferred Purchasing (EPP) program. (More information is available at share.kaiserpermanente.org/article/kaiser-permanente-rejects-antimicrobials-for-infection-control.)
In the absence of these antimicrobials, proper maintenance of floorcoverings becomes even more critical. Maintenance is a key area where specification of premium rubber flooring improves safety, as well as clinical and operational optimization. An automatic scrubber can clean and buff rubber floors rapidly by applying water to the floor via a scrubbing pad and then squeegeeing the water off the floor, leaving a clean, dry floor in about the same amount of time it takes to mop. This process eliminates the need for chemicals in cleaning and improves IAQ in support of health and wellness.
Further, premium rubber floors do not require the labour-intensive application of coatings or waxes. The absence of finishes and other chemicals benefits everyone in a healthcare setting, especially those who might be sensitive to smells or suffer from allergies these products aggravate. It also means there will not be a need to move patients or close large areas of a facility for an extended period while floors are cleaned and coatings or waxes are applied and allowed to dry. This is especially important given healthcare is a 24/7, 365-day operation.
Additionally, the introduction of a steam-cleaning system gives facilities and environmental service teams the ability to clean the floor while an area is occupied, increasing flexibility, reducing disruption to clinical work, and improving patient perception.