Safety in Science Rooms
Science Rooms have specific hazards, which are unique to these rooms. Teachers in these rooms are responsible for training students on the use of equipment, machinery and appliances as appropriate including where relevant use of appropriate personal protective equipment, adjustment of guarding and use of safety devices.
As a rule, equipment, machinery and appliances must be maintained in good working order to ensure the safety of all staff and students. This extends to equipment used exclusively by staff also.
Equipment, sockets, leads, chairs must be maintained in good working order to ensure the safety of all staff and students. Where this is not the case, staff should report it immediately to the relevant person so that it can be made safe.
You should as a matter of routine review:
- Emergency Evacuation Procedures (usually posted on the back of the classroom door).
- Location of nearest Fire Extinguishers.
- Location of nearest First Aid Box.
- Location of trailing cables & leads.
- Location of trip hazards in the room, i.e. teaching plinth/platform.
- Location of potential slip hazards.
Where an issue is found it should be reported immediately.
Best Practices – Science
Science rooms present a number of hazards given the use of chemicals and equipment. At a minimum the following items should be established:
- Students should be given clear instruction on equipment use, including which PPE to wear, the use of scalpels etc. Training records should be completed by students and kept on file with the teacher.
- Students should be supervised when operating equipment in the room, e.g. water baths etc.
- Teachers should conduct periodic tests of all emergency stops, isolator switches & fume cupboards at least once per term to ensure they are operating correctly.
- Equipment, i.e. Fume Cupboards and Gas Proving Systems should be serviced and certified annually by a competent engineer in line with a preventative maintenance schedule.
- Appropriate safety signage should be posted at each machine/equipment.
- Appropriate stocks of personal protective equipment, i.e. Lab Coats, Eye Protection, Gloves etc., should be available and maintained.
- Up to date inventories should be established for chemicals in the prep room.
- Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) should be sourced from your supplier for all chemicals in use. An MSDS provides useful information on chemicals, describing the hazards associated with using a chemical, including information on handling, storage, and emergency measures in case of an accident.
- Flammable chemicals should be segregated and stored in flammable cabinets (dedicated cabinets).
- Safety items that should be in place in all laboratories include:
- Foam Fire Extinguisher.
- Fire blankets.
- Fire buckets with sand.
- Chemical spill clean-up kit with an absorbing agent.
- Sharps container for the disposable of blades.
- Contact notice for emergency services, National Poisons Centre etc.