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NSTA Position Statement:
Safety and School Science Instruction
Inherent in many instructional settings including science is the potential for injury and possible litigation. These issues can be avoided or reduced by the proper application of a safety plan.
High quality science instruction includes laboratory investigations, interactive or demonstration activities and field trips.
The National Science Teachers Association recommends that school districts and teachers adhere to the following guidelines:
- School districts must adopt written safety standards, hazardous material management and disposal procedures for chemical and biological wastes. These procedures must meet or exceed the standards adopted by EPA, OSHA and/or appropriate state and local agencies.
- School authorities and teachers share the responsibility of establishing and maintaining safety standards.
- School authorities are responsible for providing safety equipment (i.e., fire extinguishers), personal protective equipment (i.e., eye wash stations, goggles), Material Safety Data Sheets and training appropriate for each science teaching situation.
- School authorities will inform teachers of the nature and limits of liability and tort insurance held by the school district.
- All science teachers must be involved in an established and on-going safety training program relative to the established safety procedures which is updated on an annual basis.
- Teachers shall be notified of individual student health concerns.
- The maximum number of occupants in a laboratory teaching space shall be based on the following:
- the building and fire safety codes;
- occupancy load limits;
- design of the laboratory teaching facility;
- appropriate supervision and the special needs of students.
- Materials intended for human consumption shall not be permitted in any space used for hazardous chemicals and or materials.
- Students and parents will receive written notice of appropriate safety regulations to be followed in science instructional settings.
Section 1008.0 Occupant Load—BOCA National Building Code/1996
Section 10-1.7.0 Occupant Load—NFPA Life Safety Code 101-97
40 CFR 260-70 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)
29 CFR 1910.1200 Hazard Communication Standard (Right to Know Law)
29 CFR 1910.1450 Laboratory Standard, Part Q The Laboratory Standard (Chemical Hygiene Law)
National Research Council (1995). Prudent Practices in the Laboratory, National Academy Press.
Furr, K. Ed. (1995). Handbook of Laboratory Safety, 4th Ed. CRC Press.
Fleming, et al Eds. (1995). Laboratory Safety, 2nd Ed. ASM Press.
National Science Education Leadership Position Paper. (1997). Class size in laboratory rooms. The Navigator. 33(2).
George R. Hague, Jr., Chair Science Safety Advisory Board, St. Mark’s School of Texas, Dallas, TX 75230
Douglas Mandt, Immediate Past-Chair Science Safety Advisory Board, Science Education Consultant, Edgewood, WA 98372
Dennis D. Bromley, Safety Instructor, Independent Contractor, Anchorage, AK 99502
Donna M. Brown, Radnor Township School District, Wayne, PA 19087
Frances S. Hess, Cooperstown H.S., Cooperstown, NY 13326
Lorraine Jones, Kirby H.S., Nashville, TN
William F. McComas, Director NSTA District XVI, University of Southern California, Los Angels, CA 90089
Kenneth Roy, Glastonbury Public Schools, Glastonbury, CT 06033
Linda D. Sinclair, South Carolina Department of Education, Columbia, SC 29201
Colette Skinner, Henderson, NV 89015
Olivia C. Swinton, Patricia-Roberts Harris Education Center, Washington, D.C.
Nina Visconti-Phillips, Assistance & Resources Integrating Science Education (ARISE) Dayton, NJ 08810
—Adopted by the NSTA Board of Directors