Routine Safety Procedures

The RiskAssess Team recommends that each school adopt a set of routine safety procedures for laboratory experiments conducted at the school.

Routine safety procedures should be adopted by the school's Work Health and Safety Committee, in consultation with the Principal.

All Science staff and students should be made aware of the routine safety procedures, prior to commencing laboratory work.

The set of routine safety procedures may include the following:

Knowledge

  • A risk assessment should be carried out prior to each experiment, taking into account the facilities available, the behaviour of the class, students with special needs, students and staff with allergies, training and experience of staff, and all other relevant matters.
  • Teachers should discuss laboratory safety issues, risks and control measures with students prior to commencing experiments, including discussion of the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) of each chemical to be used, equipment safety and biological handling procedures.
  • Students and staff should be aware of the location and means of operation of all safety equipment in the laboratory, including fire extinguishers, fire blankets, emergency showers, eye wash facilities and emergency stop for fume cupboard in case of fire.
  • Students and staff should be aware of the appropriate procedures should a person, chemicals or equipment catch alight.
  • Staff must ensure that relevant SDSs are readily accessible in or near the laboratory for all chemicals. The SDS for a chemical contains first-aid information, as well as details of health hazards, precautions for use, recommended personal protective equipment, safe handling information, and procedures for dealing with spills and emergencies. Copies of SDSs should also be kept in the Sick Bay.
  • Staff should be aware of policies of their school authority, including matters such as banned chemicals, banned biological materials and animal ethical issues.
  • Staff should ensure culturing of microorganisms is done in a safe manner.
  • Staff should ensure dissection activities are conducted safely.
  • Students and staff should be aware of evacuation and lockdown procedures.

Eye protection and attire

  • Students and staff should wear safety goggles throughout an experiment and its subsequent clean-up, during demonstrations, and at any other time when there is a possibility of eye injury. Those wearing prescription glasses should wear safety goggles over the top, as prescription glasses are not sufficient.
  • Students and staff should wear enclosed footwear in the laboratory.
  • Students and staff should tie their hair back when conducting an experiment.
  • Students and staff should wear appropriate clothing and avoid loose or baggy sleeves that could knock over equipment.
  • Students and staff should ensure all ties, scarves and other similar dangling objects are tied out of the way or removed.
  • Personal protective equipment, such as gloves, should be worn when appropriate.

Behaviour

  • Flammable liquids, such as methylated spirits, should never be used if there is a lit Bunsen burner or other ignition source anywhere in the laboratory.
  • Do not pipette by mouth. Always use a suction bulb.
  • Human blood should never be used in experiments. Many authorities prohibit the use of all human tissues. A few authorities allow students to use their own saliva and/or cheek cells.
  • Students should follow the teacher's instructions and not mix chemicals inappropriately or misuse equipment.
  • No person should eat or store food in the laboratory.
  • No person should run, or behave in any way that might result in injury to someone.
  • Students and staff should ensure that equipment is kept away from edge of benches, especially items such as Bunsen burners and tripods.
  • Students and staff should wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before leaving the laboratory.
  • Students should not be in the laboratory unsupervised and should not be permitted to enter chemical storage areas.
  • Students should not remove chemicals, equipment or biological items from the laboratory or classroom unless authorised by the teacher.

Spills, breakages and injuries

  • Students should report all accidents, spills or injuries to the teacher.
  • Students should report breakages immediately. Only staff should clean up breakages.
  • Staff should clean up spills as advised in the SDS, or as appropriate.

General

  • Chemicals must be purchased only from suppliers who provide an SDS that is less than 5 years old.
  • All chemicals in use must be correctly labelled according to the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), in accordance with the applicable Code of Practice for Labelling of Workplace Hazardous Chemicals.
  • Staff should ensure that appropriate equipment and chemicals are available for emergencies and spills.
  • Staff should ensure appropriate fire fighting equipment is available and in working order.