Safety Flooring

WLMD ID: aldh, aldg
In the past, some inhalation anesthetics were combustible in mixtures with air or oxygen.  Consequently, all sources of ignition had to be carefully controlled. A spark from static electricity was one possible source of ignition.  Installation of conductive flooring in operating rooms (ORs) began in the late 1920s, providing a pathway for electrostatic charges from equipment and personnel to dissipate. It was part of a system of safeguards to prevent sparks from static electricity. Prior to the 1940s, when conductive polymer flooring became available, conductive flooring in ORs was constructed from small squares of terrazzo laid in a grounded grid of thin brass strips. Because easily combustible anesthetic gas mixtures are no longer used, conductive flooring is seldom installed in today's ORs. Pictured on the left is a sample of "Conductile," a conductive flooring made by Vinyl Plastics, Inc. of Sheboygan, Wisconsin and first marketed around 1953. The sample on the right is "Masterplate," a conductive concrete and cement flooring patented in 1949 by The Master Builders Company of Cleveland, Ohio.

Catalog Record: Safety Flooring

Two Catalog Records: aldh and aldg

Access Key: aldh
Accession No.: 2014-02-10-3 A

Title: Conductile / Vinyl Plastics, Inc.

Corporate Author: Vinyl Plastics, Inc.

Title variation: Alt Title
Title: Conductive flooring sample.

Title variation: Alt Title
Title: Antistatic floor sample.

Publisher: Sheboygan, Wisc : Vinyl Plastics, Inc, [between 1953 and 1957?].

Physical Descript: 1 floor sample : vinyl ; .5 x 10.5 x 10.5 cm.

Subject: Explosions – prevention and control.
Subject: Fires – prevention & control.
Subject: Health Facilities – fires and fire prevention.
Subject: Operating Rooms – safety measures.

Note Type: General
Notes: The early year in the date range for the possible year of manufacture is
based on the earliest publication in which the product, “Conductile,” and the
company, ” Vinyl Plastics,” is found. The end year is based on the date
printed on a document that was with this sample at acquisition. The date
range could change if reliable information indicates that it should be
corrected.

Note Type: With
Notes: Sample found with an black, grey and white flooring sample and a UL
[Underwriters Laboratories] General Information Card dated September 17, 1957

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Conductile static-conductive tile [advertisement]. Architectural Forum.
1953;98:65. books.google.com/books?id=pZJHAQAAIAAJ. Accessed August 28, 2014.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Greene B. The hazard of fire and explosion in anesthesia: report of a
clinical investiation of 230 cases. Anesthesiology. March, 1941;2(2):144-160.
https://journals.lww.
com/anesthesiology/Citation/1941/03000/THE_HAZARD_OF_FIRE_AND_EXPLOSION_IN_AN
STHESIA_.3.aspx. Accessed September 5, 2014.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Henderson Y. The hazard of explosion of anesthetics: report of the committee
on anesthesia accidents. JAMA. May 10, 1930;94(19):1491-1498.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Herb IC. Explosions of anesthetic gases: method for the control of
electrostatic conditions. JAMA. December 5, 1925;85(23):1788-1790.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Horton JW. Present status of the problem of preventing anesthetic explosions.
Anesthesiology. March, 1941;2(2):121-137. https://journals.lww.
com/anesthesiology/Citation/1941/03000/PRESENT_STATUS_OF_THE_PROBLEM_OF_PREVE
TING.1.aspx. Accessed September 7, 2014.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Koka R, Philip JH. Book and multimedia reviews: Understanding Anesthesia
Equipment, 5th ed. Anesth Analg. 2008;107(6):2098. https://journals.lww.
com/anesthesia-analgesia/Fulltext/2008/12000/Understanding_Anesthesia_Equipme
t,_5th_ed_.71.aspx. Accessed August 29, 2014.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Lamb H. Anesthetic explosion hazards and precautions. Bull Am Assoc Nurse
Anesth. May 1941;9:94-100. https://www.aana.
com/resources2/archives-library/Pages/Helen-Lamb.aspx. Accessed September 7,
2014.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Livingstone H. An attempt to lessen anesthetic hazards. Anesth Analag.
November-December, 1930;9(6)269-273. https://journals.lww.
com/anesthesia-analgesia/Citation/1930/11000/An_Attempt_To_Lessen_Anesthetic_
azards___.4.aspx. Accessed September 5, 2014. [Discusses Herb’s flooring
recommendations and other electrically connecting and grounding measures to
prevent static spark.]

Note Type: Citation
Notes: MacDonald AG. A short history of fires and explosions caused by anaesthetic
agents. Br J Anaesth. 1994;72(6):710-722.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: McKesson EI. How can we eliminate static from operating rooms to avoid
accidents with anaesthetics? Br J Anaesth. April, 1926;3(4):178-181.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Safeguard against flammable gas explosions: specify static-conductive VPI
Conductile. Sheboygan, Wisconsin: Vinyl Plastics, Inc.; [1953-1970?]. [A
manufacturer’s four page booklet with no date. The date range 1953 -1970 is
partially based on the eye-glasses that a nurse is wearing in a photograph on
the last page.]

Note Type: Physical Description
Notes: One black, green, and white vinyl floor sample; The measurements were based
on the tile laying flat with the side with the manufacturer markings facing
up; The measurements might also be described as approximately .3 cm thick, 10
5 cm wide and 10.5 cm deep; The tiel is very firm but flexible; Printed in
the upper left corner on one side of the tile is, “CONDUCTILE GN-1C new
line] VINYL PLASTICS INC [new line] SHEBOYGAN WISC”.

Note Type: Reproduction
Notes: Photographed by Mr. Steve Donisch, February 10, 2014; Also, photographed with
a conductive concrete flooring sample, accession number 2007-05-10-2 CC.

Note Type: Historical
Notes: Described here is a sample of “Conductile,” a conductive vinyl flooring made
by Vinyl Plastics, Inc. of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and first advertised around
1953.

Before anesthetics such as halothane and isoflurane became available for
clinical use, the inhalation anesthetics, such as ether, ethylene and
cyclopropane, were combustible in mixtures of air or oxygen. This required
all sources of ignition to be carefully controlled. A spark from static
electricity was one possible source of ignition.

Conductive flooring began to be installed in operating rooms in the late
1920s to provide a pathway for electrostatic charges to dissipate from
equipment and personnel. It was part of a system of safeguards recommended to
prevent the accumulation of electrostatic charges. Other safeguards included
special lighting, a relative humidity of 60%, and metal chains and wires to
connect the patient, anesthesia equipment and anesthesiologist together and
to the floor.

Prior to the 1940s if an operating room had conductive flooring it was
constructed from approximately five inch squares of terrazzo laid in a
grounded grid of thin brass strips. Often there were also brass plates placed
in some of the squares or in the entrances to operating rooms to optimize
static charge dissipation. After conductive polymer flooring was introduced
in the 1940s it became the preferred option for operating rooms. Because
easily combustible anesthetic gas mixtures are no longer used, conductive
flooring is seldom installed in today’s operating rooms.

Note Type: Publication
Notes: History Of The NFPA codes and standards-making system. National Fire
Protection Association website. https://www.nfpa.
org/~/media/Files/Codes%20and%20standards/Standards%20development%20process/H
storyNFPACodesStandards.pdf. Accessed September 5, 2011.

Note Type: Publication
Notes: Jones GW, Kennedy RE, Thomas GJ. Explosion hazards of combustible anesthetics
Washington: United States Government Printing Office; 1943. Technical paper
653. https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001567744. Accessed September 4,
2014. [Report produced after a committee composed of safety experts and
various anesthesia industry representative was formed to study the hazards of
gases and vapors used in anesthesia. The report summarizes the investigations
and suggests “satisfactory noninflamable anesthetic mixtures can be obtained
by the addition of helium in sufficient amounts to cyclopropane and oxygen,
and cyclopropane, ether and oxygen mixture.”]

Note Type: Publication
Notes: Woodbridge PD, Horton JW, Connell K. Prevention of ignition of anesthetic
gases by static spark. JAMA. 1939;113(9):740-774. https://woodlibrarymuseum.
org/library/pdf/WLMREP_27.pdf. Accessed September 5, 2014.

Note Type: Exhibition
Notes: WLM Safety Exhibit in the ASA Park Ridge headquarters building, 2nd floor,
from November, 2010 to March, 2014; Selected for the WLM website.

Access Key: aldg
Accession No.: 2007-05-10-2 CC

Title: A sample of Masterplate floor / The Master Builders Co.

Corporate Author: The Master Builders Company.

Title variation: Alt Title
Title: Conductive flooring sample.

Title variation: Alt Title
Title: Antistatic floor sample.

Publisher: Buffalo, N.Y. ; Cleveland, O. ; Toronto, Ont. : The Master Builders Co., [between 1946 and 1960?].

Physical Descript: 1 floor sample ; concrete, cement, felt, paper ; 3 x 6.5 x 6.5 cm.

Subject: Explosions – prevention and control.
Subject: Fires – prevention & control.
Subject: Health Facilities – fires and fire prevention.
Subject: Operating Rooms – safety measures.

Note Type: General
Notes: The early date in the date range for the possible year of manufacture is
based on the year that The Master Builders Company applied to patent the
material (1946). The patent was granted in 1949. The end year is a rough
estimate based on the dates of publications (found in Google Books, the
Internet Archive, and Google Scholar) in which “Masterplate” is referenced.
The date range could change if documentation indicates it should be corrected

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Business & industrial briefs: a digest of information received by the editor:
concrete floors. Eng J. January, 1950;33(1):70. https://archive.
org/details/transactionsofen33engi. Accessed August 29, 2014.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Greene B. The hazard of fire and explosion in anesthesia: report of a
clinical investiation of 230 cases. Anesthesiology. March, 1941;2(2):144-160.
https://journals.lww.
com/anesthesiology/Citation/1941/03000/THE_HAZARD_OF_FIRE_AND_EXPLOSION_IN_AN
STHESIA_.3.aspx. Accessed September 5, 2014.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Haldeman FM, inventor; Master Builders Company, assignee. Aggregate for
concrete. US patent 1,113,555. October 13, 1914. https://www.google.
com/patents/US1113555. Accessed August 28, 2014. [No mention of conductivity.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Henderson Y. The hazard of explosion of anesthetics: report of the committee
on anesthesia accidents. JAMA. May 10, 1930;94(19):1491-1498.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Herb IC. Explosions of anesthetic gases: method for the control of
electrostatic conditions. JAMA. December 5, 1925;85(23):1788-1790.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Horton JW. Present status of the problem of preventing anesthetic explosions.
Anesthesiology. March, 1941;2(2):121-137. https://journals.lww.
com/anesthesiology/Citation/1941/03000/PRESENT_STATUS_OF_THE_PROBLEM_OF_PREVE
TING.1.aspx. Accessed September 7, 2014.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Koka R, Philip JH. Book and multimedia reviews: Understanding Anesthesia
Equipment, 5th ed. Anesth Analg. 2008;107(6):2098. https://journals.lww.
com/anesthesia-analgesia/Fulltext/2008/12000/Understanding_Anesthesia_Equipme
t,_5th_ed_.71.aspx. Accessed August 29, 2014.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Lamb H. Anesthetic explosion hazards and precautions. Bull Am Assoc Nurse
Anesth. May 1941;9:94-100. https://www.aana.
com/resources2/archives-library/Pages/Helen-Lamb.aspx. Accessed September 7,
2014.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Livingstone H. An attempt to lessen anesthetic hazards. Anesth Analag.
November-December, 1930;9(6)269-273. https://journals.lww.
com/anesthesia-analgesia/Citation/1930/11000/An_Attempt_To_Lessen_Anesthetic_
azards___.4.aspx. Accessed September 5, 2014. [Discusses Herb’s flooring
recommendations and other electrically connecting and grounding measures to
prevent static spark.]

Note Type: Citation
Notes: MacDonald AG. A short history of fires and explosions caused by anaesthetic
agents. Br J Anaesth. 1994;72(6):710-722.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: McKesson EI. How can we eliminate static from operating rooms to avoid
accidents with anaesthetics? Br J Anaesth. April, 1926;3(4):178-181.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Vassallo SA. Lewis H. Wright Memorial Lecture: Jerry A. Dorsch, M.D., and
Susan E. Dorsch, M.D., to present. ASA Newsl. 2008;72(9):6-7. https://www.
asahq.
org/sitecore/content/Home/For%20Members/Publications%20and%20Research/Newslet
er%20Articles/2008/September2008. Accessed August 28, 2014.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Wood BR, inventor; The Master Builders Company, assignee. Method for
resurfacing masonry and concrete structures. US patent 2,4888,251. November
15, 1949. https://www.google.com/patents/US2488251. Accessed August 28, 2014.
[Claims product is conductive, “In addition, the surface has a high
electrical conductivity and Will not spark when struck by a heavy metallic
object.” Patent applied for April 15, 1945.]

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Wood BR, inventor; The Master Builders Company, assignee. Surfacing material.
US Patent 2,488,252. November 15, 1949. www.google.com/patents/US2488252.
Accessed August 28, 2014. [Claims to be conductive, “In addition, the surface
has a high electrical conductivity and will not spark when struck by a heavy
metallic object.” Patent applied for March 27, 1946.]

Note Type: Physical Description
Notes: One sample of layered concrete and cement flooring; The measurements were
taken with the sample resting on a desk with the side with the label facing
up; The sample measures approximately 2.7 x 6.5 x 6.5 cm; Under the paper
label is a square piece of green colored felt; Below the felt is a block of
concrete, measuring approximately 2.2 cm in thickness, with very visible
pebbles of various sizes and colors; Below the concrete is a 3 mm layer of
red tinted cement; The text on the label includes, “”Industry’s Toughest
Floor” [new line] A Sample of [new line] MASTERPLATE FLOOR [new line] The
thick armored surface is produced on the job by dusting on the freshly
floated concrete or mortar a mixture of Masterplate and cement. Where desired
a non-skid finish is produced by swirling with wood float. [new line]
Masterplate floors are: [new line] DURABLE [tab] SPARKPROOF [new line]
DUSTLESS [tab] CONDUCTIVE [new line] NON-SLIP [tab] ECONOMICAL [new line]
Available in 11 attractive colors [new line] For New and Resurfacing old
floors [new line] The MASTER BUILDERS Co. [new line] Buffalo, N.Y. Cleveland
O. Toronto, Ont.”

Note Type: Reproduction
Notes: Photographed by Mr. Steve Donisch, February 10, 2014, Also, photographed with
a sample of vinyl flooring, accession number 2014-02-10-3 A.

Note Type: Historical
Notes: Described here is a sample of “Masterplate,” a conductive concrete and cement
flooring patented in 1949 by The Master Builders Company of Cleveland, Ohio.
It was marketed to Hospitals, but conductive polymer flooring, introduced
during the 1940s, became the preferred option for operating rooms.

Before anesthetics such as halothane and isoflurane became available for
clinical use, the inhalation anesthetics, such as ether, ethylene and
cyclopropane, were combustible in mixtures of air or oxygen. This required
all sources of ignition to be carefully controlled. A spark from static
electricity was one possible source of ignition.

Conductive flooring began to be installed in operating rooms in the late
1920s to provide a pathway for electrostatic charges to dissipate from
equipment and personnel. It was part of a system of safeguards recommended to
prevent the accumulation of electrostatic charges. Other safeguards included
special lighting, a relative humidity of 60%, and metal chains and wires to
connect the patient, anesthesia equipment and anesthesiologist together and
to the floor.

Prior to the 1940s if an operating room had conductive flooring it was
constructed from approximately five inch squares of terrazzo laid in a
grounded grid of thin brass strips. Often there were also brass plates placed
in some of the squares and in the entrances to operating rooms to optimize
static charge dissipation. Because easily combustible anesthetic gas mixtures
are no longer used, conductive flooring is seldom installed in today’s
operating rooms.

This sample of Masterplate flooring was donated to the WLM by Jerry A. Dorsch
MD and Susan E. Dorsch, MD, anesthesiologists who devoted their careers to
help other anesthesia providers understand the intricacies of the myriad of
equipment used to deliver modern anesthesia care. The five editions of their
text Understanding Anesthesia Equipment, originally copyrighted in 1975, has
been an indispensible learning tool and must-have reference for generations
of anesthesiologists and other anesthesia team professionals.

Note Type: Publication
Notes: History Of The NFPA codes and standards-making system. National Fire
Protection Association website. https://www.nfpa.
org/~/media/Files/Codes%20and%20standards/Standards%20development%20process/H
storyNFPACodesStandards.pdf. Accessed September 5, 2011.

Note Type: Publication
Notes: Jones GW, Kennedy RE, Thomas GJ. Explosion hazards of combustible anesthetics
Washington: United States Government Printing Office; 1943. Technical paper
653. https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001567744. Accessed September 4,
2014. [Report produced after a committee composed of safety experts and
various anesthesia industry representative was formed to study the hazards of
gases and vapors used in anesthesia. The report summarizes the investigations
and suggests “satisfactory noninflamable anesthetic mixtures can be obtained
by the addition of helium in sufficient amounts to cyclopropane and oxygen,
and cyclopropane, ether and oxygen mixture.”]

Note Type: Publication
Notes: Salvatore J. Century-old Master Builders fulfills promise of its brand.
Concrete Products. May, 2009;112(5):29-30. https://www.buildingsystems.basf.
com/p02/USWeb-Internet/en_GB/function/conversions:/publish/content/microsites
buildingsystems/newsreleases/mb100.pdf. Accessed August 28, 2014.

Note Type: Publication
Notes: Thank you: 100 years: BASF celebrates 10 decades of the Master Builders Brand
BASF website. https://www.basf-admixtures.com/en/100_Year/Pages/default.aspx.
Accessed August 28, 2014.

Note Type: Publication
Notes: Woodbridge PD, Horton JW, Connell K. Prevention of ignition of anesthetic
gases by static spark. JAMA. 1939;113(9):740-774. https://woodlibrarymuseum.
org/library/pdf/WLMREP_27.pdf. Accessed September 5, 2014.

Note Type: Acquisition
Notes: Donated to the WLM by Jerry Dorsch, MD, and Susan Dorsch, MD.