CLEAPSS highlights the dangers of rocking benches
CLEAPSS has highlighted the dangers of rocking benches in school laboratories. School science benches typically have service outlets – gas, water, electricity and data – and a bench that houses these which is not securely anchored to the floor poses a danger.
CLEAPSS has identified rocking benches as a potential hazard and is concerned that services could become detached and cause damage to health and facilities. It is urging teachers and science technicians to check their benches for signs of movement as the school year end approaches, and gives guidance here on how to deal with this.
CLEAPSS is the UK advisory service providing support in science and technology for local authorities and their schools, from nursery education through to A-level studies. For most UK schools it is the go-to organisation for information regarding the curriculum and offers guidance when issues are identified.
Schools provide one of the most demanding environments for furniture and APMG’s robust, UK manufactured product ranges are designed to withstand everything a lively classroom can throw at them. Free-standing benching such as service towers, island units and winged benches are the most likely to be affected.
Service towers in particular take a lot of punishment. Designed to be static as the classroom is reconfigured around them, tables tend to be rammed into them. Unlike most towers that have an MDF plinth, here at APMG our towers are uniquely designed with a 2 mm thick, fully welded steel plinth which is anchored to the floor. This is polyester powder coated and elevates the cosmetic MDF plinth from the floor so water from spillages and mopping will not affect its stability.
Island units and winged benches are also vulnerable to movement if this is not fully accounted for in the design and installation phases. Larger than a standard service tower, these benches do have MDF bases. However, APMG benching features base support beams designed to be secured to the floor with fixings at multiple locations. The number of fixings is decided in the design phase depending on the quality and construction of the floor. APMG’s professional installation teams also have the experience (and common sense) to add extra fixings on the job if they deem it necessary.
The guidance from CLEAPSS is clear, check that all science classroom benching is safely secured. CLEAPSS advises:
‘If you do discover any movement, then the gas in that lab should be turned off and the gas should not be used until repairs have been made to stop the movement. After these repairs the gas system should be checked by a Gas Safe engineer. (This is often called a tightness test).
‘If you do discover a gas leak in a lab then turn off the gas supply within the lab, then follow the school procedure(s) to evacuate the building and call 0800 111 999 (if you have LPG then call the supplier number, FLOGAS 03457 200100 or CALOR GAS 03457 444999).
‘Remember do not use any flames, or operate any switches on or off, and do not use your mobile phone until you are outside.’
The advice from APMG is ensure your laboratory furniture is designed, manufactured and installed by experts who recognise and understand the unique demands of a school environment. For more information contact us.