For hospitals and healthcare facilities, the successful management of hygiene is absolutely critical and specifying an effective entrance matting system is the first line of defence against dirt, germs and other contaminants from entering the building. However, matting systems should not just be limited to main entrances. Lee Fox, Sales and Marketing Director at Kleen-Tex UK, discusses the important role the placement of floor mats can play in hospital design and functionality.
When specifying floor mats in hospitals and healthcare facilities, the main entrance area is the obvious point to start in order to prevent dirt, germs and moisture from entering the rest of the building. Entrance matting systems also minimise accidents caused by wet floors, reduce maintenance costs and improve the overall appearance of internal floorcoverings. However, there are many advantages to be gained by specifying a combination of different types of matting throughout the entire building in order to optimise product performance and overall cleanliness and hygiene.
When specifying entrance matting and subsequent floor protection, it is important to adopt zoning principles to ensure the unique demands and needs of each area within the building are met. These tend to fall into three categories – external, internal and tertiary.
The primary role of external entrance matting is to create an initial barrier to dirt, moisture and grit from entering the building. It is widely recommended to use a product with an open construction that removes coarse dirt and that will also cope with the extremes of outdoor environments. However, it is also important to consider the type of traffic entering the building. In addition to foot traffic, there will also be a high number of wheelchairs and trolleys entering a hospital, so careful consideration to the material used will ensure a smooth and safe journey for everyone.
Once inside the hospital entrance, secondary internal entrance mats should be used across the main doorways to trap any remaining dirt and moisture, whilst also welcoming visitors and patients into the hospital. These mats often incorporate a hospital logo or welcome message and are also designed to reduce any noise and vibrations caused by people walking over hard surfaces.
It is important to ensure that these mats in particular have smooth, chamfered edges to avoid potential trip hazards and to enable wheeled traffic to travel over the mat smoothly. Size is also an important consideration when specifying internal mats, as larger mats tend to be better for dirt transfer, particularly in high-traffic areas such as the main reception. Hygiene also remains an important consideration, as high traffic can generate lots of potential dirt and moisture transfer, so internal mats must also be easy to clean from a maintenance point of view.
Once inside the main building, tertiary mats can then be used for a number of different applications. For example, anti-fatigue mats will enhance ergonomic comfort in areas where staff are on their feet for long periods of time, or in areas of the hospital where people may need to queue. Messaging mats can be used for signage throughout the building helping to direct traffic flow or signpost particular areas. More recently, message mats have been used in hospitals to promote additional hygiene messaging, such as hand sanitising stations and social distancing markers.
For specialist facilities within the hospital that require extremely high levels of hygiene, the use of sticky mat systems are ideal as the tacky surface instantly grabs anything that touches it, removing any harmful particles that may have been left behind. Ideal for laboratories, theatres and other sensitive areas, sticky mat systems have multiple, replaceable layers that can be peeled away and disposed of safely.
So, whilst the main entrance is a good starting point for an effective entrance matting system, making sure the right combination of matting systems is specified throughout a hospital or healthcare facility is key to overall safety and hygiene.