You must "teach" lab safety!
The summer has literally flown by for me. It's almost time for me to start back to school .... On August 1st! So now I am thinking about what I need to do to be ready for the first day that students are in my class.
For me, the first day is always the same..... I start teaching about lab safety. Since I am a high school teacher, the lab is an important and integral part of my class. We spend about 40% of our class time in the lab. In the 28 years that I have been teaching, I have been fortunate in that there has never been a serious accident in my lab. I have had a minor cut or two (of the paper cut variety), 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.
All teachers who teach science......please listen to me! You must cover lab safety thoroughly and appropriately for the age student 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.
What do you need to do to provide adequate instruction in laboratory safety? This is my routine:
- Lab Safety PowerPoint: I give the students an outline of notes that they fill in as we go through my PowerPoint presentation on lab safety.
- Lab Safety Contract: Parents receive a copy of the lab safety rules. The parents sign a lab safety contract along with their child. I keep these on file all year long.
- Student Medical Form: Parents have the opportunity to list any "conditions" that I might need to be aware of. For example: I once had a student who had very severe mold allergies. She was excused from doing my mold lab.
- Lab Safety Scavenger Hunt: I have a first day activity that students complete when we visit the lab for the first time.
- Lab Safety Quiz: Students are tested on the safety rules.
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!
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