They are usually intended for use in public places, and intended for the short- or long-term private use of individuals for storing clothing or other personal items. Users may rent a locker for a single use or for a period of time for repeated use. Some lockers are offered as a free service to people partaking of certain activities that require the safekeeping of personal items.
In schools without lockers, students are sometimes provided with two complete sets of textbooks, one set being kept at school for use in class, and the other being kept at home for referring to for homework, thus limiting the amount of heavy carrying that would otherwise be required without having lockers to store them in between classes. However, research has shown an increase in the incidence of back injuries in some students, which has been directly attributed to the lack of lockers for storing books in, thus forcing students to spend more time carrying heavy loads of books in backpacks.
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There are a number of features or characteristics which may vary in lockers. Because purchasers will need to specify what they want in each of these when ordering, it is more common to order a particular configuration rather than buy "off the shelf" in a shop, although certain very common configurations can be found in shops fairly easily. These features include:
Sloping tops: while most lockers have flat tops, some manufacturers offer the option of sloping tops to their range of lockers. The slope may be of either 30 degrees or 45 degrees to the horizontal, sloping towards the front, and the purpose of this is to make it impossible to store items on top of the lockers, or to make it harder for dust or other debris to accumulate there. This is an important factor in places like food-processing factories or restaurants where hygiene requirements must be met.
Perforated lockers are similar to the standard types of locker, but the door and walls are made largely or entirely of perforated steel, with hundreds of holes creating a strong mesh arranged in a diagonal pattern. This is used where good ventilation is required, or where, for security reasons, it is necessary that the contents can be examined visually while the doors are locked.
Bank size: It does not necessarily refer to the total number of compartments, but rather the number of compartments wide the entire cabinet is. So a bank of three may contain six lockers, for example, if they are two-tier lockers. In short, the total number of lockers is the bank size multiplied by the number of tiers. Sometimes the term "bay" is used instead of "bank", although "bank" appears to be the more standard term; on other occasions, "bay" refers to a single locker width within a bank, including all tiers of locker directly on top of each other.
With the same standard features as the Traditional line, the Traditional Plus Collection is intended for more rugged applications. Plastic Lockers are ideal for high-humidity moisture applications, as these virtually maintenance-free lockers will never rust, rot or corrode. These lockers are available in multiple configurations and are backed by a 15-year warranty.
Material: steel is the traditional material; but wood, plastic, or laminate are sometimes used. Plastic or laminate lockers are sometimes advocated in environments, such as near swimming pools, where moisture accumulation may cause steel lockers to rust over time. They can also be used in external applications where internal space is not available.