The ideal office canteen flooring is one that balances good aesthetics with excellent function to provide a visually appealing, hygienic and safe space for the staff.
When specifying the flooring for an office canteen, several factors must be considered including who will be using the space, what they will be using it for, and what challenges the floor will face from the expected high traffic, use of equipment, spills and cleaning materials. For office canteens, it can be assumed that staff will be using the space to relax and eat lunch, so the floor is likely to face exposure to spilled food or drink, highlighting two properties that should be specified for the flooring – slip resistance and chemical resistance.
In any area where food or drink is consumed, there is a high chance of spillage and these spills being cleaned with water. Both of these factors pose a slip risk to those using the space, which can potentially lead to serious injury and even litigation if the facility is seen to be at fault. Slip resistant floors are, therefore, needed for such environments.
In many countries, the slip resistance of floors is measured using the pendulum test, which is most often performed in situ on a level, finished floor in both wet and dry conditions. The test is designed to mimic the action of a pedestrian’s heel striking a wet floor, which can typically lead to a slip incident.
The testing equipment measures the quantity of resistance to the motion of the pendulum slider that is created when the slider comes into contact with the test surface. This test must be performed under wet conditions, unless internal textile floor coverings are present, which should be kept dry. Here a slider makes contact with the test surface over a prescribed distance and the quantity of resistance in the motion of the pendulum against the test surface is measured.
The rubber used on the pendulum’s slider is an important factor, as the choice of rubber can influence the outcome of the test. For this reason, Standards Australia stipulates that Slider 96 rubber should be used for surfaces that are particularly slippery, or are subjected to the risk.
Many countries use Pendulum Test Value (PTV) or ‘R’ ratings to categorise the levels of slip resistance as determined by the results of a pendulum test. In Australia and New Zealand, however, the wet pendulum test was updated to replace the ‘R’ ratings with ‘P’ ratings in 2013. The ‘P’ rating system goes from 1 to 5, with 1 indicating the least resistance and 5 the most. For office canteen areas, the floor should aim to be a P3 rating, as this is the recommendation for public areas when wet; all that’s needed is a splash of spilled coffee to make the floor wet enough to meet this criteria.
Epoxy resin floors and textured polyurethane systems should all be tested for slip resistance, and can be specified to include coloured sand grains or flakes for decorative purposes. Examples of such flooring systems are Flowfresh SRQ and Flowfast SRQ from Flowcrete.
For areas that are likely to experience increased exposure to spillages or more intense and regular cleaning, the slip resistance should ideally be over 70 PTV or P5 on the anti-slip scale. To achieve these high levels of slip resistance, epoxy floors with a highly textured surface, such as that of Flowfresh SR from Flowcrete can be specified.
Flowfresh SR is an antibacterial polyurethane concrete coating that contains natural quartz, providing a decorative and coloured finish. In addition to being slip resistant, Flowfresh from Flowcrete is chemical resistant, meaning that natural acids and sugars from food, as well as the chemical cleaners used to clean them will not affect the floor’s finish. The Flowfresh range also contains Polygiene, an antibacterial additive that can kill up to 99.9% of bacteria that comes into contact with the floor’s surface.
Drainage systems should be considered for areas that may have exposure to high levels of surface water. The position of the drain will determine the direction and level of the floor’s pitch.
Ensuring that the flooring is chosen and applied in the correct manner reduces the chance of surface water. Stagnant surface water poses an increased slip risk, but can also harbour germs if it is not quickly and efficiently drained away, which is a serious health and safety concern, especially in a canteen environment. Bacteria thrive in damp conditions, and if this enters the air through evaporation, staff could breathe in potentially dangerous bacterium and fall ill. A flooring specialist should, therefore, be consulted to ensure that the floor complies with a functional drainage system.
Seamless resin floors have no joints, preventing bacteria from hiding in crevices and multiplying. Such floors should be specified with coving to eliminate the joint between the floor and the wall, further reducing the hiding places for germs, bacteria and dirt, and making the space extremely easy to clean.
Getting the right floor is essential to guarantee the operational effectiveness of an office canteen, as well as the safety of the staff that use it. Get in touch with a member of Flowcrete’s expert team to learn more about specifying hygienic and safe flooring solutions for your canteen.