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Case 330 - University’s hot air vents covered with anti-homeless cages

Issue

A university has covered hot air vents with anti-homeless cages citing health & safety reasons.

Panel decision

Whilst there may be some small health risks eg from carbon monoxide exposure in the exhaust gases from the boiler vents, the main concerns appear to relate to possible fires near the vents and the potential for blockages of the vents to shutdown boilers which are critical to ongoing research work.

Getting the right balance between these issues for the university and being sensitive to the needs of others is challenging and the real reasons for covering the vents was not fully explained initially. As with many mythbuster cases, clear and open communications from the outset can help explain the real reasons behind decisions and avoid the appearance of simply quoting ‘health and safety’ as a convenient catch all excuse.

2014-10-10