Healthcare and education buildings are often continuously expanded and redeveloped during their lifetimes. As a result of the pandemic many hospitals had to make the changes rapidly, for educational settings every space in the building became vital to create ‘learning bubbles’ to keep students distanced from one another. Putting in effective, temporary boiler solutions and plant rooms whilst work is carried ensures the safety of everyone on site. However, can more be done to plan ahead for scheduled work – or in the worst case, plant failure – and have lessons been learnt from the pandemic?
Due to budget constraints healthcare and education settings often struggle to keep up a high standard of maintenance on their plant equipment; they are often waiting for new budgets to be able to fix issues with boilers. This can result in having to be reactive when issues arise. During the pandemic some very old wards in old buildings that had been stripped of equipment ready for future redevelopment had to be brought back online and at speed. These wards were suddenly critical to the safe functioning of the hospital. Getting these spaces back online quickly and safely meant using temporary solutions including impermanent boiler and plant rooms.
On sites where there has been a great deal of redevelopment, plant rooms can often be hard to gain access to. As Steve Warne at Ideal Heat Solutions explains: “Plant rooms can often be built in inaccessible places including roofs which means we sometimes have to use a crane to access a plant room and remove an old boiler. If a school or hospital has had a retrofit, it can mean the plant room is extremely tight. This could mean it is necessary to take a plant room offline to replace a boiler. To break down a boiler and rebuild it in a plant room is a hugely expensive operation and many manufacturers will not even allow this. There is often not enough allowance made to get equipment out whilst leaving everything else in situ.”
Working on live systems also increases the risk of worker injury. “Working on any live system is dangerous; it is safer to work in a plant room that is cold and has its power isolated because otherwise one error can have fatal consequences. Of course, strict safety measures are put in place but you can never account for human error so there is always a residual risk. By using a temporary boiler you can eliminate that risk. If something were to go wrong whilst working on a live system a hospital or school could be forced to close.” adds Mr Warne.
Problems with boilers occur most often during very cold winter months when periods of high demand can result in boilers beginning to struggle. Healthcare and education providers will be looking for a solution, this is often a temporary heating measure that avoids the outlay of any large capital expenditure needed for a replacement. This can often mean temporary solutions are in place for a long period of time.
There is no law for a minimum or maximum temperature for people to work in. However, the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) – The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, which apply to all workplaces, states that during working hours the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings should be reasonable. The accompanying Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) defines this as normally at least 16°C (60°F) during the length of time people are likely to be there. However, these temperatures may not necessarily provide reasonable comfort, depending on other factors such as air movement, relative humidity and worker clothing. The guidance also states that a sufficient number of thermometers should be provided to determine the temperature inside a workplace. There is no guidance for a maximum temperature limit. A healthcare or education provider could close its buildings if temperatures are not deemed reasonable by an employer.
Gas supplies to hospitals and schools have ‘gas governors’ that incorporate pressure regulators, filtering devices and slam shut devices to protect the National Grid from over pressurisation. Hospitals often have twin stream regulators so if one fails there is another to take its place and keep the hospital operational. In many educational facilities these regulators are not seen as mission critical so there may be only one ‘gas governor’. If this is the case and the one regulator fails a school will be forced to close until it can be fixed. By building resilience into any maintenance plan, schools and hospitals can prepare for these worst-case scenarios and have a strategy in place to avoid unnecessary closures.
Steve Warne said: “The solution is for hospitals and schools to be proactive and build resilience into any building management plan. This ‘disaster’ plan should identify where temporary plant could be sited, how it can be connected to the existing system and where the pipework will run so that if the worst should happen, they are ready to act. This can reduce a site’s downtime to just hours rather than days. If the pandemic taught us anything, it is that we need to be more prepared.”
When a primary school in Dartford, Kent needed a temporary boiler whilst their plant room was being replaced, Ideal Heat Solutions was able to set up and install a temporary boiler within half a day.
This was a planned project because the school had organised contractors to replace its old plant room. The school required a temporary boiler to provide heating for just over two months and during the school Christmas holidays until the work to the plant room was finished. Ideal Heat Solutions identified a safe location to site the boiler to ensure the safety of children and staff on site.
Ideal Heat Solutions provided a 250kW oil fired containerised boiler, 3000ltr fuel tank, 30m x 50mm HTG hose.
It was able to set up and install the temporary boiler within half a day to ensure minimum disruption to the school.
As featured in Building Services and Environmental Engineer, please view the digital archive here: https://content.yudu.com/web/69r/0A170s3/BSEEJune22/html/index.html?page=30&origin=reader
You can also contact us highlighting how we can help fulfil your temporary boiler hire needs.