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Laboratory Safety

The takeaway from this blog post is simple:  You must teach a deep and thorough course on laboratory safety to the science students in your class EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR!  It's not debatable or open for discussion.

{{ Insert whining voice here. }}  "But my students have heard this so many times before.  Do I really need to make them sit through it again?"

YES!  It doesn't matter how many times your students have received lab safety instruction in the past.  It is your duty, obligation, and responsibility to ensure the safety of your students while they are in your care.  Can you imagine the nightmare if a student was injured in your lab, and you had to admit that you had not taught a lab safety unit?  All teachers who teach science......please listen to me!  You must cover lab safety thoroughly and appropriately for the students you teach.  If an accident should happen while the child is under your "care", you must be able to prove that you provided instruction in lab safety.  If you are not teaching the lab safety rules, then you could be found negligent in the event there is an accident in your class.

Lab safety instruction should be the first unit you teach at the beginning of each school year.  Since I am a high school teacher, the lab is an important and integral part of my class.  In all my years of teaching, I have been fortunate that there has never been a serious accident in my lab.  I have had a minor cut or two, but nothing more serious than that.  I attribute my great safety record to the fact that I stress lab safety on the first day and continue to stress it all year long.

What are the elements of good lab safety instruction?
  • First and foremost, students must be given a paper copy of all lab safety instructions.  I use a PowerPoint presentation that is packed with pictures and photos.  Fun images and lots of color will help keep your students interested and engaged as you go over the rules.  I give my students an outline of notes that they complete as we go through my PowerPoint presentation on lab safety.
  • Lab Safety Contract:  Parents must receive a copy of the lab safety rules.  Have the parents and the students sign a Lab Safety Contract and keep these on file on year long.
  • Student Medical Form:  I require that each student complete a Medical Emergency Form.  This form is sent home to parents to give the parents the opportunity to list any "conditions" that I might need to be aware of.  I once had a student who had very severe mold allergies.  She was excused from doing my mold lab.  I have taught several students with peanut allergies who were excused from my "Energy in Peanuts" lab.
  • Students are not allowed to go to the lab until they have returned a signed Lab Safety Contract and a completed Medical Emergency Form.
  • Take your students to the lab and teach them about the lab safety equipment.  I have a first day activity that students complete when we visit the lab for the first time.  Students are instructed on how to use the eyewash fountain and safety shower.  Students are shown the location of the fire extinguisher, fire blanket, and fire alarm.  Students are informed on how to exit the lab in case of an emergency.
  • Lab Safety Quiz or Test:  Students must be tested on the safety rules.  My students are required to score 90% or better on their lab safety quiz.  If they score below 90%, I require them to take the quiz again until a 90% score is obtained.

I love the old saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."  This is so true in relation to lab safety.  Make safety instruction a priority and keep your students safe!

If you are looking for resources to use in your classroom, click on the images below to check out these in my TpT store:


1 comment:

  1. I've spent a lot of time prepping for my lab safety with my students! I should definitely do a medical release form with the parents though, just in case!

    I've actually put my Prezi for my lab safety here:

    you can check it out if you want! Let me know if I'm forgetting anything very very important!