The Designs of two Different Types of Laboratory or Other Scientific Workplaces
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For the purpose of my paper I have assessed two laboratories, which have been designed for similar purposes. The laboratories have been used for the education of higher and secondary education. The laboratories described are NEW College, Redditch (Higher Education) and St Benedict’s High School, Alcester (11 – 16 years of age).
The laboratories are both different because of their contrasting roles. The laboratory at St Benedict’s Alcester is specifically designed for biology while the laboratory at NEW College Redditch, located in the Peakman Building, is used for applied science.
In the design of the laboratories, approval by the appropriate planning authority, namely Redditch Borough Council for NEW College and Stratford upon Avon District Council for St Benedict’s High School, has been obtained. Both Local authorities sanctioned building regulation approval at the time when the applications were made for approvals, following consultation with the appropriate fire authority (Hereford and Worcestershire and Warwickshire Fire and Rescue). It is accepted that the standards applied by the architects of both schemes required the contractors employed, for the purpose of construction, demanded that any sub contractors would follow the current C.O.R.G.I. code (for natural gas) and N.I.C.E.I.C. (the seventh edition for electrical installation). However the views and objectives of the client have influenced the design of the layout and with the specific use of materials for furniture, flooring, ceiling finishes, access and egress route signs and other factors including decoration, which may influence the working environment and the ergonomic code.
The two codes for electrical and gas supply are stated as the following:
The N.I.C.E.I.C. is the electrical installation industry’s voluntary regulatory body for safety matters. It is a charity and was set up in 1956 to protect consumers against unsafe electrical installations. It maintains over 10,500 approved contractors and conforming bodies who comply with its rules and technical standards.
All N.I.C.E.I.C. Approved contractors have been subject to a thorough assessment before enrolment. The assessment includes an exacting examination of their premises, test equipment, staff qualifications and samples of their installation work.
Approved contractors are required to:
* Carry out all work according to British Standard BS 7671 (IEE Wiring Regulations), published by the Institution of Electrical Engineers, and other relevant Codes of Practice
* Employ competent electricians with appropriate supervision
* Use materials that conform to the relevant British Standard
* Possess ï¿½1m Public Liability Insurance.
N.I.C.E.I.C. Approved Contractors have been assessed as being capable of carrying out safe, quality work to the required standards. If a problem arises between an N.I.C.E.I.C. Approved Contractor and his customer concerning electrical safety standards, the N.I.C.E.I.C. Complaints Procedure and Guarantee of Standards Scheme ensures a thorough investigation.
Where appropriate, an N.I.C.E.I.C. Inspecting Engineer will make an independent inspection of the installation. If the fault is found with the contractor, he must put it right at no extra cost to the consumer. If the contractor fails to rectify the deficiency the N.I.C.E.I.C. will appoint another Approved Contractor to carry out the work – again at no extra cost to the consumer.
The current legislation controlling the installation and use of gas is the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 which came into force on 31 October 1998 and place duties mainly on installers and some gas suppliers.
These Regulations aim to prevent injury to consumers and the public from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, fire and explosion.
In particular the Regulations require gas installers
To be registered with CORGI, (which is approved by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) to maintain a register of gas installers and gas businesses & to monitor the competency of those installers/businesses to undertake gas work safely and to investigate complaints against registered installers).
All gas-fitting operatives are also required to be able to demonstrate they are competent to undertake gas work safely normally by being assessed against nationally accepted standards.
There is no duty on owner/occupiers of private domestic property to have their gas appliances either maintained or regularly checked for safety.
But, CORGI have over the past few years, spent a considerable amount of money on publicity campaigns advising owner-occupiers to take such action.
In the factor of gas within the laboratories, any gas supplier must be CORGI registered and must possess several licenses to be allowed to carry work out in an educational establishment. This also allows protecting the staff and students and building liability, which will allow compensation if an explosion occurs.
In the design process for any laboratory there must be a constant link between the client and the designer with the clients main objectives in mind these may be:
The amount of lighting for the laboratory
The type of laboratory furniture that is required.
The amount of bench space with sink required for specific equipment and procedures.
The amount of floor space for refrigerators and other lab equipment that is required.
Free bench space for each instrument with adjacent layout bench space.
Free access space to the rear of each instrument for maintenance. This is only applicable to large heavy grounded equipment ie electron microscope
Instrument maintenance space within the instrument room with fume hood, solvent storage, and sink.
Shelving for the storage of references and manuals.
Fire prevention equipment. This may come in the form of a sprinkler system, specific amount of fire extinguishers and electrical and gas shut off points around the room.
Space for computers or other data logging equipment, which can be linked to a network
In some cases there may be some additional requirements may be required such as acoustic enhancing, reflective surfaces, vibration-proof flooring, high-strength flooring.
Space for safety equipment such as first aid kits, body fluid kits, eye wash kits, safety goggles, lab coats and protective screens.
Safety notices should be employed to allow students and teachers to be aware of any risks connected to hazardous substances around the laboratory. All safety notices should be recognised by C.O.S.H.H. regulations.
The laboratories share the main common factor, which is to provide a good education for students in the science subject. However this needs to be investigated further to show the similarities and difference of each of the laboratories when they are compared together (designs for each laboratory can be found in appendix 1). These are:
Similarities of both laboratories:
The acoustics of both laboratories allow students to listen to the teacher/lecturer from anywhere within the room.
The amount of artificial lighting is in keeping with each laboratory and with the regulations for the work place.
The amount of storage for equipment found with both laboratories.
The flooring finishes are both high duty, which is able to withstand high usage with a reduced time of wear.
Differences of the laboratories:
The differences that the laboratory in Redditch has compared to the laboratory in Alcester are:
The workbenches in the Redditch laboratory needs to be updated to be in keeping with all the new regulations for safety due to the high use of this laboratory furniture.
The amount of outside air that is allowed in to the laboratory in Redditch is reduced by the implementation of the large double glazing windows with only a 10cm clearance at the top to allow air into the room compared to the laboratory in Alcester where all the windows can be opened to a clearance of 30cm and the small skylight windows with a clearance of 20cm.
The chairs in Redditch compared to the ones in Alcester need to be updated to light weight chairs that can be easily moved with lumbar support to protect the back from damage if the student is sitting in the chair for a long time.
The layout of the Redditch laboratory is totally substandard for emergency escape procedure because the benches are attached to a sidewall leaving only one way to move to get to the door.
The accessibility for the first aid equipment is very poor in the Redditch laboratory because it is situated at the back of the room, and due to the design of the room it is not very accessible.
However both laboratories do not have sufficient protective screens.
From looking at both laboratories the designs there are several factors that can be improved upon. These factors should be found in a new design for Redditch College, which is undertaken by myself, and I hope to provide a suitable working environment within the lab. The following design will implement the following factors:
The laboratory will be designed with ergonomics in mind.
The laboratory will house a screened off area so that any explosive experiments can be preformed with out any danger to persons in the room. This screened off area also includes a fume cupboard to prevent any hazardous substances getting into the air.
The design will implement three long desks including a teacher’s desk which will have been covered with an epoxy varnish. This helps protect the designs from chemical spillages and which provides a level of safety to the scientist.
The chairs that would be used will include a base with a five-point design which helps reduce and tipping of the chair. The seat will have to include a material that is comfortable and with a slope at the front of the seat which is able to reduce the pressure from the spine all the way down the body. The backrest should include a lumbar support, this lumbar support helps reduce the pressure on the spine and the backrest should include a tilt action. The chair also must implement armrests, which should be at least 2 inches wide to provide support for the arms. The final implement for the chair is includes a footrest to reduce pressure all along the body.
The implementation of air conditioning systems provides a suitable amount of fresh air into the room.
The amount of light that able be allowed into the room is dictated by the time of the year and weather conditions so a suitable amount of artificial light such as strip lighting with a dimmer switch allows the strength of the light to be controlled.
The amount of stainless steel sinks will be dictated by the amount of students working at a maximum in the room. The implementation of 5 sinks in the room will allow the room to operate sufficiently.
Also the amount of gas taps and electrical sockets will be dictated by the total amount of persons in the room.
The use of data logging equipment should be used to a maximum in the laboratory because of the benefits to scientific experiments where the experiment can be filmed and with the use of projector equipment there will be no reason why any information can be viewed from anywhere in the room.
The type of science the laboratory will undertake will also dictate storage.
The safety equipment will be implemented to provide good relevant notices to safety.
The safety equipment may include fire extinguishers, first aid kits etc.
The storage of bags and coats should be adhered to and with a space to house safety glasses and lab coats.
The use of two electrical sockets per person should be adhered to with adequate facilities for emergency cut off
See appendix 2 for improved design.
Evaluation of Design
The design has covered the main criteria for the improvement selected above. The design gives the room space with a lot of storage space including under the desks in a side panel. The additional features that can be included such as sound proofing for acoustic enhancement, increase of windows and other ventilation equipment to provide a clean supply of air in to the laboratory. The entry and exit points should be easier to get to in case of an emergency – this allows a fluid movement. The number of fire extinguishers is to the rate of 1 fire extinguisher to 3 people. The implementation of a bag and coat rack helps reduce the amount of clutter within the room, with the sinks being all-together on one side. This allows people to move around while doing their experiment. The implementations of the seating with the lumbar support, arm rests and foot rests reduces the pressure along the spine thus allowing the person to sit in a comfortable position.
Overall the criteria to design a laboratory for applied science has been implemented, however the space and size of the room also dictates what equipment can be used.
If the possibility was to knock down the adjacent wall in to another classroom was allowed, the space would more than likely allow some heavy-duty equipment to be used for some complicated experiments.
Kate Mara – Head of Science at St Benedict’s Alcester – information on their laboratory
www.steiner-chemie.com – information on chairs and equipment for laboratory design.
www.Corgiheating.com – information on gas regulations
www.ergonomics.com – information on ergonomics
www.electricalregs.com – information electrical bodies