Lab Safety Rules You Should Know [Infographics]
How do you guarantee students’ safety while they perform science lab experiments at home or in the classroom?
Lab activities give students essential hands-on experience and align with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The best way to keep lab work a part of your school’s science curriculum — regardless of where students perform these experiments — is by following lab safety rules. When teachers and administrators follow the safety guidelines outlined in this article, they avoid student injuries while still teaching to standard.
Lab Safety Guidelines for Administrators
1. Meet with teachers individually or by department to decide what lab work students will do for in-class and remote learning (Ken Roy, National Science Teaching Association, March 2021).
2. Require science teachers to create weekly, detailed lesson plans that include safety measures. Review these lesson plans to ensure they meet legal safety standards and best practices.
3. Ask teachers to create alternative or modified versions of all lab assignments in case students are unable to
- Perform the lab assignment due to disability
- Obtain the necessary materials
- Wear the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Have adult supervision when conducting the experiment
4. Make sure teachers supply students with all necessary PPE.
5. Provide science instructors with adequate resources and training on legal safety standards and best practices, advises the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA).
Organizations that establish safety standards:
- Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)
- National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Resources for best practices:
- National Science Education Leadership Association (NSELA)
- National Science Teaching Association (NSTA)
6. Request teachers provide a hazard analysis, risk assessment, and safety actions for each laboratory assignment.
- Hazard analysis: Identifies any hazards present in a scientific experiment that could potentially harm a person or damage someone’s property.
- Risk assessment: Determines how likely and severely a lab experiment will harm a person or damage any equipment or property.
- Safety Actions: The procedures a teacher or student will take to prevent a lab emergency.
7. Require students and their parents to sign and turn in a lab safety contract, like this one from NSTA, to the science teacher before the student receives any lab assignments for remote learning.
8. Remind teachers of their Duty or Standard of Care to their students, according to the NSTA Safety Advisory Board.
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