School science laboratories handle potentially hazardous material on a regular basis, so are covered by a wide variety of rules and regulations aimed at safeguarding both the buildings themselves and the people who use them.
Tecomak Furniture Solutions has more than 40 years’ experience in providing science lab furniture for schools which has to meet all the relevant safety regulations. Here we look at the main areas of health and safety legislation affecting schools and how our designs meet their requirements.
Any type of building work, in science labs as well as ordinary classrooms, is subject to some form of building regulation. This can include making changes to a classroom’s facilities by adding items such as utilities and services, as well as designing and building a new one.
Building Bulletins cover best practice in science lab design. For example, Bulletin 80 lays down the minimum requirements for student facilities, stating that each lab must have one electrical socket per pupil, and a cold tap and sink for every six pupils. In design and technology classrooms this area of legislation is dealt with by the BS 4163:2014 Code of Practice, which says that there should be no more than 20 pupils to one teacher.
At Tecomak Furniture Solutions we ensure that all our labs and classrooms, both in terms of design and products fitted, meet the latest legal requirements. Staff undergo training on all the regulations which affect schools, to make sure they are kept up to date.
Control of Substances Hazardous to Health
COSHH is a set of regulations which were last updated in 2002 and is aimed at protecting people from being exposed to any dust, chemicals, gases and fumes which might pose a health risk. The rules are applicable to design technology furniture for schools, and also chemistry and physics classrooms, where experiments are taking place or where fume cupboards are used.
Tecomak Furniture Solutions can supply different types of fume cupboard, including ducted ones, which filter affected air out of the lab; and recirculating cupboards, where the air is cleaned and filtered back into the classroom or lab. We can also provide fume cupboards for Design and Technology classes, such as metalwork and woodwork lessons which could create a lot of dust or hazardous particles.
All of our fume cupboards meet the relevant Building Bulletin requirements and also comply with the recommendations of CLEAPSS, an advisory service for school science and design and technology.
COSSH regulations state that all Local Exhaust Ventilation systems, including fume cupboards, need to be inspected and tested at least once every 14 months. We will be able to advise you on how often your system needs to be inspected and maintained. Our sister company Tecomak Environmental Services is an expert in maintaining and testing all types of LEV systems.
Some safety regulations cover industrial and research premises as well as schools. Each school lab and Design and Technology area needs to have an emergency alarm, which should not be the same tone as a bell for the end of lessons so pupils and staff do not get confused between the two.
In addition, every lab must have a first aid kit and an eyewash station. Fire extinguishers and blankets are also required, and they need to be positioned close to high-risk locations, such as demonstration areas where experiments are being carried out.
Science lab furniture needs to be durable, and easily cleaned if any chemicals are spilt on it. This is covered by the British and European Standard regulation EN_13150_200, which also sets down recommended thickness and dimensions of furniture surfaces.
The Disability Discrimination Act means that school science labs must be accessible to everyone, including those with a disability. In practical terms, this means the labs should be designed so there is enough room for wheelchair users to move around. It also means that individual fixtures and fittings should take account of people’s different capabilities.
Tecomak will factor in issues such as wheelchair space at the design stage. We also supply a range of school lab furniture such as height adjustable tables and DDA compliant lever taps, which can be operated with an elbow or by touch and do not need to be physically turned.
Tecomak Furniture Solutions has more than four decades of experience in designing and installing school lab furniture. We will make sure that your lab meets all the latest safety requirements, in terms of both overall design and individual items of equipment. If you would like to know more about how we can help you, follow the link above.