Educational Research

Educational Research (ISSN: 2141-5161) Vol. 5(8), pp. 261-279, September 2014. DOI: http:/dx.doi.org/10.14303/er.2014.121. Copyright © 2014 International Research Journals

 

Full Length Research Paper

Designing for safety during installation and maintenance of split air-conditioners: Case study of commercial buildings in Adum

Charles Essel*1, Christian Koranteng2, Kofi B.A. Asare3

1, 2&3Department of Architecture, College of Architecture and Planning Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana.

*E-mail: essel_charles@yahoo.co.uk, Tel: +233-244643568

Abstract

 

This research is aimed at examining the spatial requirements of split air-conditioners and how they affect the safety of technicians during installation and maintenance. Climate modification is an essential part in providing comfort for occupants of buildings. This has been aided over the years with the use of HVAC systems since the 19th century. With single unit air-conditioners going out of trend due to its effect on building aesthetics, split air-conditioners have become more popular especially in public buildings. Using a mainly qualitative method, the research focused on commercial buildings in the Central Business District of Kumasi, Adum. The research combines human anthropometrics and spatial requirements of split air-conditioners from manufacturers such as LG. An examination of design influence on safety is also done. This culminates in a design response to better understand the need to adequately provide space for outdoor units of split air-conditioners. The paper highlights the little priority given to safety in designing medium to high-rise buildings in Adum and by extension Ghana. The worry of air-condition (AC) technicians is also brought to the fore with a staggering 61.5% of respondents claiming they feel unsafe working on buildings without adequate spatial provision for outdoor units. A major limitation to this paper is the difficulty in getting the specific designers of buildings captured in the survey. Another challenge was locating AC technicians, especially those who have worked in the area under study. Obtaining current occupational safety data proved to be nearly impossible. However data from the year 2000 was obtained. This clearly does not paint the current picture. The paper concludes with a design response which factors in the anthropometric demands of AC technicians. Again the lessons learnt leads to the proposal of collecting and recycling condensate from the outdoor units. For the first time in Ghana, this paper introduces the influence of design on safety with emphasis on split air-conditioners. This is to help provide a starting point for the development of best practices in design of medium to high-rise buildings which run on split air-conditioners.

Keywords: Maintenance, Installation, Split air-conditioners, Safety, Anthropometrics. 

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