Make some noise

Choice of floor covering can have a major impact on the acoustic performance of healthcare buildings

Noise levels in modern hospitals are extremely high and getting higher.

According to a study by Busch-Vishniac et al, carried out in 2005, daytime levels are up, on average, by 0.38 dB, while night-time levels rise by 0.42 dB year on year.

So creating a comfortable environment is becoming more and more vital to support the safety, healing and wellbeing of all occupants.

Surface materials such as walls, ceilings and flooring, play a huge part in noise levels, often amplifying sounds. But modern materials and technologies offer hospitals the chance to reduce noise levels significantly.

Acoustics and well-being

Mark Jackson of Forbo Flooring explains: “Noise in healthcare environments is caused by factors such as constant foot traffic, alarms, machines, rolling beds or even HVAC systems – all of which can provoke annoyance responses, reduce staff performance, and at times be harmful to patients, depending on their conditions.

“Reducing noise pollution is, therefore, essential in supporting the safety, health and wellbeing of those receiving care, as well as those working within healthcare environments.”

He added: “Flooring can play a fundamental role in the acoustic design of a healthcare building, as specialist floor coverings have the ability to mitigate sound transmission from room to room. This can help to create a comfortable and peaceful environment to aid the healing process.”


Maximising performance

The Ceilings & Interior Systems Construction Association (CISCA) has recently launched a new publication, Acoustics in Healthcare Environments. This free tool can help architects, interior designers and facilities managers to maximise the acoustic environment within medical settings.

“Research suggests that using noise-reducing finishes in healthcare settings positively impacts patients’ sleep, privacy, satisfaction, and PCT stress,” it states.

Sound travels

Specialist flooring products can contribute to the acoustic performance of a building in two ways: by reducing the level of impact noise generated within a room, and reducing the noise transmitted through the floor into the spaces below.

Sound measurements and classifications

In-room impact noise for floor coverings is tested to standard NF-S 31-074, with performance classifications from A-D.

Products receiving a Class A classification offer the best performance in terms of reducing in-room impact noise. This can also help in reducing noise transmitted to adjacent spaces, from ward to ward, for example.

Impact sound reduction values are measured across a range of sound frequencies and the weighted value is quoted in decibels (dB).

The higher the decibel value of the floor covering, the better the flooring performance in reducing impact sound.

Floor coverings are now available that can reduce impact noise by up to 20dB.

“In recognition of the effect noise can have on patients and staff in a healthcare setting, manufacturers are constantly striving to develop innovative acoustic products that meet and surpass regulatory requirements,” said Jackson.

Related Stories
Forbo Flooring Systems’ has launched a new product collection, Fast Fit, which encompasses a range of its adhesive free flooring solutions, all developed to reduce downtime by up to 2.5 days, based on a 100m2 installation. The new Fast Fit collection consists of Forbo’s genuinely loose lay solutions, including its entrance flooring system Coral Click, its luxury vinyl tile collections Allura Puzzle, Allura Click and Allura Colour Plus, as well as its vinyl sheet range Modul’up. Each range has been chos...
Forbo Flooring Systems’ Fast Fit collection comprises an array of adhesive free products, including entrance matting and interior flooring ranges in sheet, tile and plank formats for maximum flexibility. Providing a rapid and reusable solution, products have been designed to be installed quickly and easily and with minimal downtime - crucial in 24-hour healthcare environments, where disruption and closures are not an option.
Forbo Flooring Systems newly created Under Control collection comprises an array of flooring products to help control electro-static discharge in sensitive areas of a healthcare facility, such as operating theatres and pharmaceutical laboratories. The collection features its popular Colorex tile range, refreshed with a new palette and including two new products, and Sphera SD/EC, a technically advanced homogeneous conductive sheet vinyl range.
Bi-OME Antimicrobial Yarn treatment
For those of you looking to increase health protection from the floor up, danfloor's innovative antimicrobial yarn treatment, which demonstrates antiviral properties as well, is applied to a number of our products and offers an ideal flooring solution. Getting to work straight away, the Bi-OME technology attracts the microorganisms in any spillage and starts to break them down immediately, achieving a 4 log reduction of 99.99% in bugs and bacteria, including the ones that cause MRSA, E-Coli and C-DIFF.
Forbo Flooring Systems’ Marmoleum collection is one of the most sustainable floor coverings on the market, with the weighted average of its portfolio CO2 neutral (from cradle to gate) without the need to offset, which can contribute to meeting the new National Health Service (NHS England) targets of achieving net-zero emissions by 2040

Login / Sign up