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Health & Safety Awareness Training (Primary School)

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Lesson 17 of 16
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Safety in the Practical Rooms (Primary School)

Practical classrooms each have specific hazards, which are unique to these rooms. Teachers in each room are responsible for training students on equipment, machinery and appliances as appropriate, including 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.
  • Stocks of available PPE.

Where an issue is found it should be reported immediately.

PPE: Personal Protective Equipment means any device or appliance designed to be worn or held by an individual for protection against one or more health and safety hazards.

Key Definition

Student Considerations

It is particularly important to be mindful of students with specific needs i.e. physical and/or learning needs.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are there students in my class with a physical disability, vision impairment, hearing impairment, an intellectual disability or a mental health condition?
  • Are there students whose first language is not English and may require extra supervision, e.g. when working on equipment?
  • Are there students with a known medical condition/ allergen requiring medication and/or care plan administration?
  • Are there students with challenging behaviour that could increase the potential for injury to occur?

You should then consult/prepare a risk assessment in conjunction with the relevant person(s) in the school to safeguard that student.

Best Practices – Technology, Woodwork & Metalwork

Technology rooms present several hazards given the use of machinery 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 adjustable guards etc. Training records should be completed by students and kept on file with the teacher.
  • Students should be supervised when operating machinery/equipment in the room.
  • Teachers should conduct periodic tests of all emergency stops, isolator switches, guards & extraction systems at least once per term to ensure they are operating correctly.  
  • Machinery and equipment should be serviced and certified annually by a competent engineer in line with a preventative maintenance schedule.
  • Safe Working Zones should be established (floor markings) around all machinery, providing a minimum of 600mm between the operator and the machine demarcating its safe operational area. A “1 Box, 1 Person” rule can then be established by the teacher.
  • Appropriate safety signage should be posted at each machine/equipment.
  • Appropriate stocks of personal protective equipment, i.e. Eye / Ear Protection, Gloves, Push Sticks etc., should be available and maintained.
  • When ordering materials, the teacher should be mindful of the risk of back injury. Contact your supplier and source pre-cut lengths/sheets of timber. This will make the task of lifting these loads more manageable. Source appropriate lifting aids and use correct manual handling techniques to minimise the risk of injury.
  • Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) should be sourced from your supplier for all chemicals in your room, i.e. oils, lacquers. 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.

Best Practices – Science Labs

Science rooms present several 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.
  • Chemicals
    • 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. 

Best Practices – Home Economics Room

The Home Economics rooms present several hazards given the use of certain 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 safe use of cookers/sewing machines etc. Training records should be completed by students and kept on file with the teacher.
  • Students should be supervised when operating appliances in the room.
  • Teachers should conduct periodic tests of all equipment, i.e., kitchen equipment, including emergency stops, isolator switches, at least once per term to ensure they are operating correctly.  
  • Equipment should be serviced and certified annually by a competent engineer in line with a preventative maintenance schedule.
  • Appropriate stocks of personal protective equipment, i.e. Oven Gloves etc., should be available and maintained.
  • Chemicals
    • Up to date inventories should be established for chemicals in the 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.
  • Safety items that should be in place in all Art Rooms include:
    • Fire Extinguisher.
    • Fire blankets.
    • Sharps container for the disposable of blades.
    • Contact notice for emergency services, National Poisons Centre etc.

Best Practices – Art Room

Art rooms present several hazards given the use of certain 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 printing presses, lino knives, wax pots 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. printing presses etc.
  • Teachers should conduct periodic tests of all equipment, i.e., Kilns, Wax Pots & Glue Guns, including emergency stops, isolator switches at least once per term to ensure they are operating correctly.  
  • Equipment, i.e. Kiln (where supplied), 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. Eye Protection, Gloves etc., should be available and maintained.
  • Chemicals
    • Up to date inventories should be established for chemicals in the Art 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, e.g. White Spirits, should be segregated and stored in flammable cabinets (dedicated cabinets).
  • Safety items that should be in place in all Art Rooms include:
    • Fire Extinguisher.
    • Fire blankets.
    • Sharps container for the disposable of blades.
    • Contact notice for emergency services, National Poisons Centre etc.