Why choose ESD flooring in healthcare facilities

FM newsroom – healthcare facilities. In healthcare facilities equipment and electronics are highly vulnerable to the effects of static electricity. Controlling static in these environments can not only reduce costs by helping to prevent issues from occurring but can also improve safety and satisfaction for the patients and staff. 

A human being walking on a carpeted floor on a cold, dry day can generate 5,000 volts or more of static electricity. That’s why people literally get shocked when touching somebody or a metal object and medical equipment and electronics used in a medical office or lab can be vulnerable. It’s the big reason why the healthcare industry is taking a hard look at electrostatic discharge (ESD) flooring – Thomas Ricciardelli, president of SelecTech, Inc., tells Buildings Magazine.

Static electricity can corrupt diagnosis and patient care

Data corruption caused by static electricity can impact patient records, which play an extremely important part in diagnosis. Static electricity can also impact machines used for diagnosis, like MRI and X-ray machines, leading to diagnostic failure and patient discomfort.

„For example, a patient is allergic or has a bad reaction to a certain type of medication. That’s typically indicated in their record. If that record has been corrupted or unavailable due to the impact of static electricity—something the healthcare provider might not know at the time of treatment—it could have a disastrous impact” – Ricciardelly points out, adding: „Controlling the static electricity in the examination or other room where treatment or diagnosis occurs goes a long way to protecting both patient and practitioner.”

Good flooring can keep static on a safe level

ESD flooring does not prevent static electricity, but it can reduce static electricity to safe levels. Generally, in a healthcare setting, if static charges on people can be kept below 2,000 volts, many of the hazards can be significantly reduced. In a healthcare setting, this enables computers and electronics to function without the risk of data or machinery being damaged.

Typically, ESD flooring is used in an “ESD Controlled” environment and used in areas where there are very sensitive electronic components being assembled. In such environments, it’s important to keep voltages much lower, below 100 volts. To accomplish this, the flooring must be used in conjunction with ESD footwear so that there is a good electrical connection between the person and the floor.

„Fortunately, a healthcare setting is not as sensitive as, say, an electronics assembly environment. So consequently, neither patients nor staff need to wear ESD footwear. That’s why when shopping for ESD flooring, it’s important to look at how different ESD floors perform with regular footwear and ensure that they are capable of keeping voltages on people below 2,000 volts” – Ricciardelli highlights.

Maintenance issues 

Downtime – Downtime is a key consideration for a healthcare facility, particularly if the room being re-floored houses critical equipment (e.g., an MRI machine). There are flooring products available that can be installed over existing flooring without adhesives and minimal preparation. These types of flooring greatly reduce, or even eliminate downtime.

Sustainability – The sustainability mindset made interlocking flooring products more attractive to healthcare facilities. Not only does this type of flooring install easily, but it can be uninstalled and moved to another part of the facility in case of relocating a room that requires ESD flooring.

Maintenance – Tiles in a medical facility need to be regularly cleaned to prevent the spread of germs. Some ESD products may require special cleaners, others might not. Facility managers should do their research to pick the most suitable for the given facility.



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