Science K-12 Safety

In implementing the Science Standards of Learning, teachers must be certain that students know how to follow safety guidelines, demonstrate appropriate laboratory safety techniques, and use equipment safely while working individually and in groups. 
 
Safety must be given the highest priority in implementing the K-12 instructional program for science. Correct and safe techniques, as well as wise selection of experiments, resources, materials, and field experiences appropriate to age levels, must be carefully considered with regard to the safety precautions for every instructional activity. Safe science classrooms require thorough planning, careful management, and constant monitoring of student activities. Class enrollment should not exceed the designed capacity of the room. 
 
Teachers must be knowledgeable of the properties, use, and proper disposal of all chemicals that may be judged as hazardous prior to their use in an instructional activity. Such information is referenced through Materials Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). The identified precautions involving the use of goggles, gloves, aprons, and fume hoods must be followed as prescribed. 
While no comprehensive list exists to cover all situations, the following should be reviewed to avoid potential safety problems. Appropriate safety procedures should be used in the following situations: 
• observing wildlife; handling living and preserved organisms; and coming in contact with natural hazards, such as poison ivy, ticks, mushrooms, insects, spiders, and snakes; 
• engaging in field activities in, near, or over bodies of water; 
• handling glass tubing and other glassware, sharp objects, and labware; • handling natural gas burners, Bunsen burners, and other sources of flame/heat; 
• working in or with direct sunlight (sunburn and eye damage); 
• using extreme temperatures and cryogenic materials; 
• handling hazardous chemicals including toxins, carcinogens, and flammable and explosive materials; 
• producing acid/base neutralization reactions/dilutions; v Science Standards of Learning for Virginia Public Schools – January 2010 
• producing toxic gases; 
• generating/working with high pressures; 
• working with biological cultures including their appropriate disposal and recombinant DNA; 
• handling power equipment/motors; 
• working with high voltage/exposed wiring; and 
• working with laser beam, UV, and other radiation. The use of human body fluids or tissues is generally prohibited for classroom lab activities. Further guidance from the following sources may be referenced: 
• OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration); 
• ISEF (International Science and Engineering Fair) rules; and 
• public health departments’ and school divisions’ protocols.