Mobile demonstration teacher bench - all that use gas cylinders unsafe to use in schools (according to CLEAPSS)

Peter Sigsworth

COMMITTEE
Do any of you use these? We need to source one for each of our labs because it looks like we are going to have to demonstrate nearly all practicals.
Here is an example of what we are looking at made by a reputable company, Irwin:
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To our shock and dismay CLEAPSS say that 'there are no mobile benches that currently meet IGEM gas safety requirements' when pressed they say that it is ‘definitely not suitable', illegal (as it doesn’t meet IGEM gas regs) or even safe to use (in a school or anywhere else).
I had a similar issue with CLEAPSS over portable bunsens where they say that they do not recommend the gas canister types see GL240.
I know the Urwin one uses a 3.5kg butane gas cylinder and standard regulator (legal and used nationally in BBQs and camping stoves) which the school supply and are responsible for connecting, risk assessing and maintaining safely.
So since the gas and regulator is supplied and maintained by the school , not the bench manufacturer, what CLEAPSS are saying is that standard butane gas cylinders with a normal regulator are not safe for school use - unbelievable.
I find this very worrying as these benches are sold by standard school suppliers and are in many schools nationally! I can't find any CLEAPSS documentation about this on their website which makes things doubly worrying.
Any thoughts?
 
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Nick Mitchener

COMMITTEE
Are those portable burners allowed? We have demos only for the moment but even after that no bunsens for students. Not all our labs have gas available to a front demo area. Something like this might be useful. We do have one hotplate.
 

Peter Sigsworth

COMMITTEE
Are those portable burners allowed? We have demos only for the moment but even after that no bunsens for students. Not all our labs have gas available to a front demo area. Something like this might be useful. We do have one hotplate.
If you view CLEAPSS GL 240 you'll find that they are ok. Work off lighter fluid not canister gas
 
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I would avoid all naked flames with hand sanitiser about, too much risk even if it is banned someone will have it.
 

Peter Sigsworth

COMMITTEE
I would avoid all naked flames with hand sanitiser about, too much risk even if it is banned someone will have it.
@Paul please keep on thread - I posted this to gauge who uses mobile science benches and if they are any good. I get using a portable burner instead of the gas burner they supply but hand sanitiser is completely irrelevant and is discussed at length in several other threads.
 

karen b

COMMITTEE
We have a portable fume cupboard and we use a long hosed Bunsen burner and connect it to a regular gas tap. We also have some ducted fume cupboards that are plumbed in with long flexible connectors. This, in theory, allows them to be swung out into the lab space to be used for teacher demos, but they are rarely used this way.

All teacher benches in the labs have gas and water, but not all labs have fume cupboards
 
It would be useful to know exactly why CLEAPSS thinks it does not conform to regs. It wouldn't be legal to sell it here, if that were so. Or is this one of those bizarre situations where selling is legal but using is illegal?
 

Peter Sigsworth

COMMITTEE
It would be useful to know exactly why CLEAPSS thinks it does not conform to regs. It wouldn't be legal to sell it here, if that were so. Or is this one of those bizarre situations where selling is legal but using is illegal?
CLEAPSS rsponded directly to our HOD by email when she asked about the Irwin model. But there are no documents published on the CLEAPSS website she said:

"I messaged about that specific mobile demonstration bench and was told that it is ‘definitely not suitable, illegal (as it doesn’t meet IGEM gas regs) or even safe to use (in a school or anywhere else)’. They said that they had in the past contacted the manufacturer Irwin to pass on their concerns about these benches but didn’t give any further details. "

So we are at a loss about it - buy them and not use the gas - use a portble burner instead?

The manufacturer say:
"
The Mobile Science Bench was originally designed to exact UN standards, it conforms to all regulations for use and storage of gas in buildings. There is an opinion that the use of gas in this way is in fact safer than having up to 30 unattended gas taps on benches in school laboratories.

The cabinet which stores the cylinder can be locked with the regulator turned off so even if the taps were to be deliberately or accidently turned on no gas would escape.

The fact that the bench is mobile means that the guidance for the storage of gas cylinders indoors should be in a locked room when not in use offers double security. Once the school has gas on their premises, it is their responsibility to adhere to the guidance."



There are possibly hundreds of mobile science benches being used in schools in the UK. As mentioned, schools do have to adhere to regulations themselves with regard to the use and storage of gas which essentially mean having signs on doors saying gas is stored inside in the event of a fire. There is absolutely no regulations to prevent schools from purchasing and using gas as long as they conform to the guidelines.
 
At first I thought it might be due to the use of flexible piping to connect the gas bottle but then I realised that fixed copper piping would be more likely to crack and leak. We have benches for wheelchair users that can be raised and lowered, which have gas taps connected to mains gas by flexible pipes, so it cannot be that. Given the manufacturer's statements about the bench's safety and in the absence of a clear statement of the specific concerns from CLEAPSS, I would go ahead with the purchase. If the concerns turn out to be correct, it would be subject to a recall/repair.
 

Peter Sigsworth

COMMITTEE
At first I thought it might be due to the use of flexible piping to connect the gas bottle but then I realised that fixed copper piping would be more likely to crack and leak. We have benches for wheelchair users that can be raised and lowered, which have gas taps connected to mains gas by flexible pipes, so it cannot be that. Given the manufacturer's statements about the bench's safety and in the absence of a clear statement of the specific concerns from CLEAPSS, I would go ahead with the purchase. If the concerns turn out to be correct, it would be subject to a recall/repair.
At first I thought it might be due to the use of flexible piping to connect the gas bottle but then I realised that fixed copper piping would be more likely to crack and leak. We have benches for wheelchair users that can be raised and lowered, which have gas taps connected to mains gas by flexible pipes, so it cannot be that. Given the manufacturer's statements about the bench's safety and in the absence of a clear statement of the specific concerns from CLEAPSS, I would go ahead with the purchase. If the concerns turn out to be correct, it would be subject to a recall/repair.
I'm just wondering that it is becuase the bench has a cylinder in it which is deisgned to be used outside (BBQs etc) and not indoors - otherwise CLEAPSS issue doesn't make sense - these regulators and cylinders are used all over the country and must be legal!
 

Janeylou

Madbird
I would avoid all naked flames with hand sanitiser about, too much risk even if it is banned someone will have it.
On an aside ... Our risk assessment states that we cannot use alcohol based sanitizer in the labs. I managed to source a reasonably priced 5 litre container from Bookers as this was a "last minute" decision (mid summer hols) and so I shopped around looking for something that would be in place when we returned. Holchem are the manufacturers. Bookers is flogging it for £20. Also unperfumed which is a bonus.

In regards to the portable benches - had exactly the same issue. For what we want, we are probably going to go for the spirit burners as recommended. In all fairness, it is a bit overkill with an electrical port for computers, gas, electrics. It doesn't sit well with me connecting/disconnecting a water supply near a unit with an electrical supply that could slosh during transit. With the best will in the world, plugging, unplugging, moving, repeat, repeat, repeat will eventually loosen tight fittings and wear down o-rings and seals.

With the problem of having no desk at all, a sturdy, cleanable trolley with locking wheel brakes suffices for most stuff.
 
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