Health and safety have been constant features during the past 12 months, with the education sector, students and parents being affected significantly, as everyone dealt with the uncertainty, disruption and enforced changes due to the pandemic and the impact of lockdown.
With schools returning in early March this year, educational life has already started to return to some level of normality, although there is still some way to go. One thing that has become even more visible during the past 3 to 4 months, however, is the renewed and broader focus on health and safety, beyond the obvious issues of dealing with the effects of Covid.
Some of this has been stimulated by the recognition that regular maintenance and refurbishment projects has taken a back seat during the lockdown, which are now becoming essential, if not urgent, considerations for many schools, as well as nurseries and colleges.
Additionally, we have seen strong indications that educational facilities are keen to upgrade existing washrooms, radiator guards and interior casings, for reasons of practicality, durability and decoration, as well as improving hygiene and safety.
In 2020, Pendock took the opportunity to restructure its entire product range by combining similar products into six individual groups, each with its own clear brand to make specification easier and more logical.
Of these, there are four that are most regularly specified for education refurbishment projects: The ‘Washroom’ range, as its name indicates, provides a comprehensive range of cubicle and washroom systems, whilst ‘SafeHeat’ includes our anti-bacterial low surface temperature (LST) radiator guards.
Alongside these, the ‘Radius’ brand combines our six decorative column casings products into a single range while ‘Profiles’ includes all pipe boxing and services casings.
Clean, safe & hygienic
Washrooms are a common upgrade or refurbishment area for schools and although durability is a key consideration, design and aesthetics also feature highly. Our ‘Washroom’ range includes an array of cubicle and washroom systems that suits different visual and performance requirements, as well as budgets.
Matching vanity units, back panels and accessories are also available for each system, which allows easy integration with the washroom design, while vanity unit tops can be manufactured in one piece, providing added strength and durability. DDA and Approved Document M compliant solutions are also included.
High-pressure laminate (HPL) or compact laminate (CL) materials are generally preferred when specifying educational cubicles and washrooms, as they are very strong and the surface finishes have a high resistance to scuffs and damage.
The HPL and CL products from the Classic Plus, Robust and Education ranges also provide a wide range of finish options, which can help make washrooms a less intimidating environment than they have been in years gone by.
For nurseries and pre-school it’s relatively common practice for bright colours and specially shaped doors to be specified and we have also prepared some systems with unique finishes for individual schools.
Although melamine-faced chipboard (MFC) units are included in our range, they are not generally suited to pupil-facing school environments, as they are less resilient and likely to need replacing at shorter intervals than HPL or CL cubicles.
Safety and hygiene are also important facets behind the growing use of our SafeHeat LST radiator guards in schools.
Although originally developed for use in hospitals, care homes and other healthcare applications, their ability to reduce burn risk and their antibacterial coating has increased their popularity in education over the past few years.
The principle is a simple one. Where exposed radiators of almost any size or type are present, often operating with a water temperature of around 80 degrees C, covering them with a guard creates an ‘insulation space’ around the radiator while still allowing convection, which helps reduce the risk of accidental burn injury. A further option is available within our range that ensures the LST guard’s temperature does not exceed 43 degrees Celsius.
Also, for more than a decade, every model in our SafeHeat range has been coated with an antibacterial finish, as standard, which is effective against a range of bacteria and is an important feature post-Covid.
Although the Prima LST guards are popular in education projects, the Ultima LST guards are the most regularly specified for reasons of functionality and cost-effectiveness. They also feature radiused corners for additional safety.
As a general rule, the built-in lockable easy-access panels featured on the Prima Plus and Ultima Plus models are not typically specified, as they would be on healthcare projects, which helps minimise cost. Instead, the panels can be simply unscrewed from walls for routine maintenance and cleaning.
When compared to the cost of replacing existing radiators with dedicated LST units, SafeHeat radiator guards can represent a significant cost-saving on refurbishment projects, enabling more cost-effective budget use without compromising on safety.
Decorative and durable
Beyond the specific applications, functionality and requirements of washrooms and LST products in education, our Radius column casings range and Profiles services casings are usually specified for their decorative qualities and durability.
Designed to conceal interior and exterior structural steelwork, as well as concrete columns, Radius includes six individual column casing types. A wide range of sizes, shapes, materials and finishes are included, which makes it possible to find appropriate casing solutions for all internal and external columns.
While regularly installed on refurbishment and upgrading projects, Radius is also used on new-build projects to improve the aesthetics of exterior and interior structural supports, in foyers, main halls, and gym areas where steel columns are positioned around the perimeter requiring semi-circular casings.
However, it’s important that the right products are chosen for their application. External column casings should be manufactured from stainless steel, aluminium or GRP for reasons of toughness, durability, and weather-resistance.
As GRP casings are produced from moulds, it allows both bespoke shapes to be specified, while metal casings have the same level of versatility, as they can be formed and manufactured to meet a wide range of shapes and sizes.
Pre-formed plywood casings finished in high pressure laminates, also provide a highly durable and versatile solution, with an exceptionally wide range of finish options. Whilst they are highly durable and resistant to scuffing, the plywood core makes them suitable only for interior applications.
Raising the ‘Profile’
In common with the Radius’ plywood column casings, our Profiles brand of service casings is manufactured from the same material and is pre-formed and pre-finished.
This manufacturing approach allows a wide range of choice in terms of sizes, while removing the need for on-site fabrication of boxing to conceal pipework, such as those used on heating systems and below washbasins or to conceal electrical or communication cable routing.
We’ve found that site-made boxing solutions typically vary from room to room or between locations, as the fabrication is reliant on the individual skills of more than one person, which leads to inconsistency.
Our pre-formed boxing, however, is a finished product that is specified rather than created at the point of installation. They just need to be cut to length and fitted with screws and battens. Also, they are much easier to remove and replace for routine inspection or maintenance.
Across all our products, we provide support to educational specifiers in a number of ways. One of the most regularly used and easy to access, is our library of downloadable specification clauses and DWG and PDF format drawings.
We currently have more than 200 drawings, which is growing as more products are launched and all are available on our website at www.pendock.co.uk.