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Is Your Hard Flooring Affecting Your Health?

Posted on Mar 1, 2016, by Michael Eckert

Your office environment plays a major role in employee health and wellness, and a negative office environment can increase stress levels and can have an impact on employee health.

Your choice of flooring has a huge impact on your office environment, and in turn your employees’ physical comfort at work, their productivity and focus, and their wellbeing.

With that in mind, I’m looking at four ways your office’s hard flooring may be affecting the health and wellness of you and your colleagues.

1) Acoustic Profile

In an office environment, noise is the number one problem that employees have to deal with.

Background noise is ever-present and constantly disruptive: phone calls and conversations, moving furniture and even foot traffic all creates noise that can distract your employees. High levels of noise can contribute to increased stress levels and decreased productivity among employees, so it’s essential to take action to reduce noise levels.

All hard flooring types have relatively poor sound absorption properties as sound can reverberate through the flooring layers rather than being absorbed like with carpet.

However, different types of hard flooring have different acoustic profiles. For example, natural hard flooring like stone or wood is much poorer at absorbing sound compared with Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT). This is because stone or wood flooring is solid, whereas sound has to travel through the synthetic construction of LVT.

2) Underfoot Comfort

With sit-to-stand working growing in popularity, your choice of flooring can greatly impact an employee’s comfort while on their feet. LVT flooring is the type of hard flooring that is most forgiving underfoot as it’s made of a softer material than stone or laminate flooring.

But all hard flooring is naturally harder on the feet and leg muscles than carpet. You may choose to complement your hard flooring with carpeted areas, to improve the comfort of your standing employees.

3) Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality is a huge concern for schools, offices and hospitals alike, and some types of hard flooring can negatively impact air quality in your organization.

Vinyl Composition Tiles (VCT) require a rigorous maintenance schedule to maximize the lifetime of the tiles, involving extensive waxing and polishing, and then regularly stripping away the wax and polish before reapplying. The stripping procedure releases wax particulates into the breathing zone and HVAC system, impacting indoor air quality.

4) Slips and Falls

Slips and falls are a leading cause of injury in many schools, offices and senior living communities. Your choice of flooring plays a huge role in improving safety and minimizing injury in the workplace.

After cleaning, or when exposed to moisture from rain or snow, your hard flooring will become slippery. In the event of a fall, some hard flooring types are ‘less hard’ than others, meaning that impact is less likely to result in injury.

For example, a fall on ‘very’ hard flooring such as natural stone is more likely to result in injury than a fall on ‘softer’ hard flooring such as LVT, as the impact of landing will be lessened.

The A-Z of Health & Wellness in Interior Design

Topics: Health & Wellness

Michael Eckert

Written by Michael Eckert