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General Science Safety Checklist

Science safety is a team effort involving not only teachers and students but also school administrators and parents. But where can you go for guidance about proven safety practices?

Safe Schools: A Healthy and Safety Check. Developed by the Public Education and Risk Communication Division Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute and University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey School of Public Health with funding support from the New Jersey Department of Education, Office of Vocational-Technical, Career and Adult Programs.

The New Jersey Department of Education
Office of Office of Vocational-Technical, Career and Adult Programs
Riverview Execitive Building
Building 100, P.O. Box 500
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0500
609-984-5969

Additional information regarding the Safe Schools Project can be found at http://www.njsafeschools.org/

New Jersey Administrative Code refer to NJAC:19-10 Safety and Health Standards

Many—if not all—issues related to science safety are addressed by the Council of State Science Supervisors (CSSS). From chemical storage to safety equipment recommendations, CSSS's Web site provides readers with a wealth of practical information.

The following is a suggested checklist of safety concerns in K-12 science labs adapted with permission from the Council of State Science Supervisors. (This and other related materials are available online at: http://www.csss-science.org/safety.shtml.

Safety Equipment

  • Keep appropriate safety equipment on hand, including an emergency shower, eye-wash station, fume hood, fire blankets, and fire extinguisher. All students and teacher(s) should have and wear safety goggles and protective aprons when working in the lab.
  • Ensure proper eye protection devices are worn by everyone engaged in supervising, observing, or conducting science activities involving potential hazards to the eye.
  • Provide protective rubber or latex gloves for students when they dissect laboratory specimens.
  • Use heat-safety items such as safety tongs, mittens, and aprons when handling either cold or hot materials.
  • Use safety shields or screens whenever there is potential danger that an explosion or implosion might occur.
  • Keep a bucket of 90 percent sand and 10 percent vermicullite or kitty litter (dried bentonite particles) in all rooms in which chemicals are handled or stored. The bucket must be properly labeled and have a lid that prevents other debris from contaminating the contents.

Teaching Procedures

  • Set a good example when demonstrating experiments by modeling safety techniques such as wearing aprons and goggles.
  • Help students develop a positive attitude toward safety. Students should not fear doing experiments or using reagents or equipment, but they should respect them for potential hazards.
  • Always demonstrate procedures before allowing students to begin the activity. Look for possible hazards and alert students to potential dangers.
  • Explain and post safety instructions each time you do an experiment.
  • Maintain constant supervision of student activities. Never allow students to perform unauthorized experiments or conduct experiments in the laboratory alone.
  • Protect all laboratory animals and ensure that they are treated humanely.
  • Remind students that many plants have poisonous parts and should be handled with care.
  • For safety, consider the National Science Teachers Association's recommendation to limit science classes to 24 or fewer students.

Student Safety Tips

  • Read lab materials in advance. Note all cautions (written and oral).
  • Never assume an experiment is safe just because it is in print.
  • Do not eat or drink in the laboratory.
  • Keep personal items off the lab tables.
  • Restrain long hair and loose clothing. Wear laboratory aprons when appropriate.
  • Avoid all rough play and mischief in science classrooms or labs.
  • Wear closed-toed shoes when conducting experiments with liquids or with heated or heavy items.
  • Never use mouth suction when filling pipettes with chemical reagents.
  • Never force glass tubing into rubber stoppers.
  • Avoid transferring chemicals to your face, hands, or other areas of exposed skin.
  • Thoroughly clean all work surfaces and equipment after each use.
  • Make certain all hot plates and burners are turned off before leaving the laboratory.

Lab Environment

  • Place smoke, carbon monoxide, and heat detectors in laboratories and storerooms.
  • Ensure that all new laboratories have two unobstructed exits. Consider adding additional exits to rooms with only one door.
  • Frequently inspect a laboratory's electrical, gas, and water systems.
  • Install ground fault circuit interrupters at all electrical outlets in science laboratories.
  • Install a single central shut-off for gas, electricity, and water for all the laboratories in the school, especially if your school is in an earthquake zone.
  • Maintain Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) on all school chemicals and an inventory of all science equipment.
  • Conduct frequent laboratory inspections and an annual, verified safety check of each laboratory.

Science Lab Activity Guide

LESSON ONE:

  • Read all directions CAREFULLY!

  • Read all directions TWICE!

Additional Resources

For more in-depth, comprehensive information on science safety, we encourage you to visit the following Web sites:

Science equipment suppliers that provide science safety information

Schoolwide Student Safety

Science safety is most likely to be achieved when students and teachers work together to ensure a respectful school and classroom environment. Operation Respect, a non-profit organization, disseminates free educational resources that help to extablish a climate of respect and safety in schools and classrooms throughout the United States.

View or download the DuPont™ Science Safety Zone™ poster (pdf file, 501 kB).

This science safety awareness program is sponsored by the DuPont Center for Collaborative Research & Education in cooperation with A+ Media, Inc., the Council of State Science Supervisors, and the North Central Eisenhower Mathematics & Science Consortium.

DuPont
Center for Collaborative Research & Education
P.O. Box 80030
Wilmington, DE 19880-0030

Copyright 2003 by E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company

Pollution Prevention and Right to Know (NJDEP)