Merseyside-based specialist fabricator BRITplas has developed an extraordinary window solution for secure hospitals and similar healthcare facilities using Pilkington Activ™ self-cleaning glass as one of its major components. The SafeVent Window was developed after BRITplas was approached by Laing O’Rourke to provide windows for the Rathbone Low Secure Unit on behalf of Merseycare NHS Trust.
Laing O’Rourke had approached a number of manufacturers to source windows for the hospital that would provide an appropriate level of security whilst retaining the appearance and general performance of conventional windows. BRITplas was the only company to provide an appropriate solution.
The BRITplas SafeVent window has an in-line horizontal sliding action which allows up to 50% of the window area to open without the need for hinges, locking points, levers or handles that may be used as ligature points. It has an easy sliding action to allow use by even frail patients whilst also preventing use as a ligature anchor point.
The SafeVent’s open area is covered with a sheet of stainless steel punched with holes to make a mesh. Although, in description, this sounds austere it is actually surprisingly discreet. The mesh prevents escape and the passing of contraband while allowing fresh air, natural sound and light to enter the room.
Standard glazing comprises of a 10mm toughened glass on the internal surface, a 10mm argon-filled air gap and an 8.4mm laminated section to the outside. Pilkington Activ™ is utilised due to the difficulties presented in cleaning the windows because the Safevent Window cannot be opened conventionally and the external pane of the sliding section is fixed behind a mesh. The self-cleaning action of Pilkington Activ™ ensures that through exposure to ultra violet light organic soiling of the glass surface is continuously broken down and loosened. By occasionally spraying water through the top of the mesh in short bursts the hydrophilic action of the glass causes the water to ‘sheet’ and therefore take the loosened dirt with it as it runs off.
As proven by extensive and violent testing the SafeVent Window is highly secure, whilst also complying with thermal performance in accordance with Part L of the Building Regulations. Of key importance however is that the windows provide an appearance and performance close to that of conventional frames. The window may be manufactured in any framing material and with a choice of glazing options, including solar control. Frames may be manufactured to almost any size including patio door dimensions.
Kevin Gorman, Managing Director of BRITplas and designer of the SafeVent Window, says that Pilkington Activ™ was a key component of the development of the product: “Pilkington Activ™ allowed us to develop a solution that is very simple in its principles and execution, but which more than satisfies the strict criteria of the client.”
Since the SafeVent system was used throughout Rathbone LSU five other NHS Trusts and two private hospitals have installed the product, including Pennine Care NHS Trust, Oxford & Buckinghamshire NHS Trust, Derbyshire NHS Trust, 5 Boroughs NHS Trust and Gloucestershire NHS Trust. Private hospital groups to have installed SafeVent featuring Pilkington Activ™ are Alpha Hospitals and Priory Healthcare. A further eleven projects are being installed with others under discussion.