IMD – Back to learning in safetyIMD
Back To Learning
As our schools, colleges and universities prepare for the return of their pupils and students the “new normal” will require a few changes. The teaching environment will have to adapt to ensure learning is done in safety and to the latest regulatory requirements.
Not only must consideration be given to the most recent national and international standards but also to take advantage of the latest developments in material technologies. Whether that concerns:
- Part M Compliant Wiring Accessories
- Social Distancing in classrooms and offices
- Antimicrobial Wiring Accessories
- Antimicrobial Cable Management
- Low Smoke Zero Halogen cables
Part M Compliant Wiring Accessories
Approved Document Part M, Access to and Use of Building as part of the Building Regulations. Requires that when wiring accessories are installed in public installations switches and sockets should have colour contrasting face plates to their surroundings. In addition to, being fitted to a certain height tolerance to ensure easy access. These considerations are required where the partially sighted or physically impaired may be present. Switches on dual outlets should be separated and preferably of the large paddle type format for simple use.
Many contemporary standard flush fitting socket outlets incorporate USB charger outlets making them particularly useful for saving the need to have your device charger to hand. Such new versions however must comply with the latest amendment to the British Standard (BS1363-2:2013 +A1:2018) to ensure compliance. The M2 wiring accessories fully comply with the latest British and international standards and within the comprehensive range are Part M approved devices if required.
Social Distancing in classrooms and offices
Consideration must also be given to maintain the new and correct social distancing in classrooms and offices. This will require many to be moved and which can be further complicated if power and data connections also have to be repositioned. All manner of power distribution unit or power feeders are used throughout the educational sector above or below desk. Used to power up even the more diverse pieces of equipment that we have in our educational environments. The temptation in many cases perhaps is to fit a plastic extension socket without need to the requirements of BS 6396:2008+A1:2015. The standard for Electrical Systems in office and educational furniture aims to define safe and proper materials for construction and limits and controls to ensure electrical safety. Many of these more specialised distribution units will incorporate media and data connectivity which also requires adequate segregation.
A range of above and below desk power distribution units (PDUs) are provided by RPP, both standard and bespoke products. All PDUs fully compliant with British Standard BS6396 Electrical Systems in office and educational furniture. These robustly made products can be linked to provide the necessary extensions in a safe manner and avoid the more hazardous temptation of using perhaps not fit-for-purpose alternatives.
Antimicrobial Wiring Accessories
Materials with bacterial inhibitors have been available for some time but many of the more obvious products are not utilising this technology. The switches of socket outlets and light switches particularly are touched regularly. The M2 range of moulded wiring accessories are manufactured in urea formaldehyde which has similar inherent properties to antimicrobial additives that inhibit the growth of infectious diseases. These properties however are not intended to replace normal cleaning routines.
Antimicrobial Cable Management
Such additives which are based on silver ion technology are also used by Centaur manufacturing on their range of dado and skirting trunking systems. Working with their partners Addmaster (UK) Ltd and independently tested, the antimicrobial material is found to be 99.99% effective against the four main strains of bacteria – MRSA, E-Coli, Salmonella and Klebsiella Pneumonia. The silver ions interact with the bacterial DNA and prevent replication, effectively neutralizing the strain.
Once compounded into the material the technology can also be used on any of Centaur’s range of PVC-U products which also includes, mini and maxi trunking, conduits and bench trunking which is commonly used in laboratories and test rooms in the educational sector.
Low Smoke Zero Halogen
BS6396 requires that any electrical product that is part of educational furniture should be manufactured from robust materials and adequately earthed. The RPP power distribution units are made from extruded aluminium. An excellent conductor with an external earth stud for bonding with metal components of any furniture or fabrication. The switch, socket and data devices used are all manufactured from durable thermoplastics and able to withstand considerable harsh use. Cables and supply flexes are also available in low smoke zero halogen which is increasingly becoming a consideration when reducing risk in the event of building fire.