By Kenneth Roy
Posted on 2016-10-17
The school year is well under way. But before students enter science labs, they must turn in a safety acknowledgment form.
After completing introductory safety training, as noted in NSTA’s Duty of Care (NSTA 2014), review and have students and their parent or guardian sign a safety acknowledgement form (see Resource), stating safety practices and protocols. In addition, test students on the safety training before they begin any lab work.
It’s important to know the difference between a safety acknowledgement form and a safety contract. Generally, a teenager can enter into a legal contract at age 18, so younger students should only be asked to sign a safety acknowledgment form. By signing a safety acknowledgment form, students confirm that they have been informed that the lab can be an unsafe place, and that they have agreed to follow safety procedures and protocols.
The science teacher needs to keep the original copy of the forms on file for the duration of the class. The statute of limitations for negligence in most states is three years from the date of harm. If there is an accident in the classroom or lab, the teacher should compile safety information records, including the acknowledgement form and accident report, and provide copies of the records to his or her school district. In the event of an accident, these documents should be kept until the statute of limitations run out. In some rare cases, when parents refuse to sign the safety acknowledgment form, teachers need to date, sign, and note the fact that the parent refused to sign the form.
Once the lab investigations are under way, science teachers also have the responsibility to:
1. Inspect for safety before, during, and at the close of activities, and monitor student behavior and equipment to help foster a safer learning environment.
2. Enforce appropriate safety behavior and apply a well-defined progressive disciplinary policy, which involves a progression of steps, starting with a verbal warning and escalating to removal from class.
3. Follow-up on maintenance to ensure engineering controls and personal protective equipment are operational and meet the manufacturers’ standards. If the ventilation cap on a chemical splash goggle has been removed, for instance, take the goggle out of operation.
National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). 2014. NSTA—Duty or Standard of Care. www.nsta.org/docs/DutyOfCare.pdf
Safety acknowledgment form—www.nsta.org/pdfs/SafetyInTheScienceClassroom.pdf
Web SeminarScience Update: From Talking Trash to Taking Action: The Science of Marine Debris, April 20, 2023
Join us on Thursday, April 20, 2023, from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM ET for an edition of NSTA’s Science Update about marine debris. Our oceans are fille...
Web SeminarScience Update: Food Agriculture – The Plant Scientist’s Toolbox, March 9. 2023
Join us on Thursday, March 9, 2023, from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM ET for an edition of NSTA’s Science Update about food agriculture....
Web SeminarBook Beat Live! The 2023 Outstanding STEM Books List: Ignite Students’ Interest in Science and Engineering! What’s on your Holiday Gift List? December 13, 2022
Join us on Tuesday, December 13, 2022, from 7:00 PM to 8:15 PM ET for another edition of NSTA's Book Beat Live! How do we prepare 21st-century...