Laboratory furniture and equipment
There are a number of important issues to consider when planning a good working, ergonomic school science laboratory:
- Pupil benches: These should have a work surface area ≥ 36m²per pupil, with linear frontage ≥ 600mm per pupil. The height of pupil benches should be 900mm, with good clearance for legs when the pupil is seated at the bench (270mm top of stool to underside of bench). All services, except water, should be within 600mm of the pupil position in at least one layout.
- Perimeter benching: This should be on two walls maximum, with the height to match pupil benching, and having adequate structure to support it, especially on long stretches.
- Demonstration bench/service bollard: This should have all services (e.g., water, gas, electricity), and be the same height as pupil benches, with no teacher dais.
- Teacher base: This is a secure storage area for the teacher’s laptop and personal items while conducting a science lesson. The base can be part of the demonstration service bollard.
- Presentation areas: Writing whiteboards, as well as one/both with projection screen(s).
- Display areas: With display boards.
- Adjustable height bench: For mobility services from an adjacent bench/service bollard (which itself may be need to be adjustable).
- Service bollards/pedestals, where used: Heights should match benches, with very secure floor fixings to ensure safety of gas supplies. The installation should be closely monitored to ensure exact spacing of bollards/pedestals if crucial to designed bench arrangements. (Note: Gas, water and electricity services all on one 600mm x 600mm bollard is acceptable. Also note that the small base area of these bollards can make them unstable).
- Equipment trolleys: Again, heights should match benches, with planned spaces for parking and access.
- Work surfaces: If Trespa® surfaces are used, these should be ≥ 16mm thick; Corian® materials should be ≥ 13mm thick, bonded to ≥ 25mm, moisture-resistant, green MDF Where bench frames are metal, the grade to be of sufficient thickness and quality to ensure stability and robustness.
- Cupboards: Carcasses, shelves, drawer fronts and infill panels should be built with 18mm MDF with melamine facing.
- Door hinges: These door hinges should open to ≥ 270o and be self-closing.
- Stools: Supply one per pupil, plus four spare stools for teacher and support staff. Stool design should include large area leg ends or skids. Allow enough leg space for people to sit at benches (270mm top of stool to underside of bench).
Ergonomic considerations should include a back rest if possible. Stools should be stackable to a maximum height of four stools. (Note: thin tubular steel legs with ordinary plastic ferrules will quickly lose their ferrules with resultant holes in the floor – Steel ferrules should be ordered with such stools. Cheap stools are a false economy.