Strong views on ‘weak’ vision panels

When developing products for the mental health sector, it should be obvious that standard designs won’t be appropriate, points out Alan Rees, MD of Corby-based Creative Ironmongery, who adds that, nevertheless, ‘some suppliers will try to convince buyers that a standard product is adequate’.

He added: “When architectural ironmongers choose to maintain an item’s attractive headline price by costcutting, the result can be products that fail, are difficult to use, or aren’t safe.

“Take the fire safety of vision panels – some aren’t even fire-rated. Those that are tend to use toughened glass, and unless that is installed perfectly, free from even minor damage, they will fail in a fire. Then there’s an issue with the inner blinds. Our non-flammable blinds are designed to be light to use, and tolerant of any installation issues – put them in upside down and they’ll still work. Some vision panels use lightweight plastic, mechanisms are likely to snap, and the material will give off toxic fumes in a fire.” 

Alan Rees started his working life as an apprentice engineer, going on to work on prototype development, and now focuses on ‘products that solve problems’. He explained: “Sometimes Creative Ironmongery’s output is a bespoke fix no one else has been willing or able to develop. Often our ideas become costeffective alternatives to mainstream products. We can’t cut corners with mental health, but people still try, and sometimes don’t even ensure that products are anti-ligature. Equally, why do some suppliers ignore aesthetics? With our vision panels, the beading will match the door – that’s the way it should be. There’s just not enough attention paid to the detail of the design.”