Life Science Safety Concerns
The middle school offers a continued experience for formal laboratory activities. Safety is a learned skill which is as important as all other lab techniques. The maturity, age and skills of these students should dictate the planning and monitoring of laboratory lessons. It is not enough that posters outlining safety rules be posted, the teacher should instruct the students before lab activities, demonstrate correct procedures at all times and demand that teachers and students take on safety as a prime responsibility when conducting scientific investigations.
Students must be actively taught to be safe in the science classroom. Lesson plans should include details about the safe use of classroom materials and equipment, the location and proper operation of safety equipment, the rules for and responsibilities of students.
These lessons need to be tested and retested until all students have demonstrated proficiency. These tests should be retained by the teacher during the school year. Safety considerations should become a part of each lesson plan that involves any possible hazards and students need to be instructed about avoiding them.
Students need to be constantly reminded of safety considerations. The science classroom should have on display safety posters and all safety equipment should be prominently marked. Student safety contracts, signed by students and parents, help to reinforce the importance of safe science instruction and are strongly recommended. (See the Appendix for a sample middle school student contract.)
The teacher should, if possible, locate and be able to operate master classroom electricity, gas and water shut-off controls. Each science classroom should have access to a fire extinguisher, safety shower, fire blanket, eye-wash station and first-aid kit. All electrical outlets should be of the grounded type and equipment power cords should be frequently inspected. Avoid the use of multiple connection extension cords and keep all power cords away from student work areas. Students should be instructed in the location and proper use of the classroom fire extinguisher and eye-wash station.
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