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Health and Safety in School Labs 101

May 28,2020 by Edulab

It’s nearly time to go back to school and since the start of the year, health and safety has now become even more of paramount importance. And science is perhaps the most hazardous part of the school curriculum. In particular, labs.

Laboratories in schools are a fundamental aspect of every school facility, whether it be secondary, college or universities. Labs offer essential practical learning, which allows students to conduct science experiments hands on and not just read about them in books.

With that though, comes potential risk. The environment of a lab can be dangerous, so it’s imperative that the school’s lab and the students are placed in a safe learning environment to ensure any experiment is carried out according to a plan and as safely as possible.

Health and safety in schools is about taking sensible and proportionate actions to protect both staff and students. However, lab technicians and teachers aren’t always available at all times to supervise every individual, so a large amount of the responsibility must undoubtably fall on the students themselves.

Nevertheless, there are things the school and teaching staff can do to set the health and safety bar as high as possible to reduce any potential risks of accidents and promote safe practices in the lab.

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success”

Not a bad piece of advice from a man who started off as a keen biologist and went on to invent the first practical telephone. And it’s true. If you don’t prepare adequately schools teaching ability and your student’s learning ability diminishes.

Well ventilated rooms, providing clean, filtered and sterilised air for when dealing with hazardous chemicals. Correctly placed points of evacuation in case of a serious accident

Before anything else though, before your pupil even thinks about picking up any lab equipment, it’s a good idea to explain the risks involved in both written and verbal forms to make sure you capture all your audience.

There are so many things they need to be made aware of. What chemicals they need to be extra careful with, what to do if there is a chemical spillage and what safety equipment to use.

The impact of a global pandemic

Teaching staff need to make sure the students can also prepare themselves in advance using the correct PPE (personal protection equipment). Safety goggles, disposable gloves, glass beakers and even lab coats. Although these may be harder to acquire since the Coronavirus outbreak, they’re still a necessity. Feel free to get in touch with EduLab’s specialist team to see how we can help you.

More so than ever, it’s also imperative that students avoid touching their faces and touching anyone else. First and foremost, chemicals can produce burns or trigger other irritations, so it’s a good idea not to touch body parts, but they now need to abide by social distancing rules for the foreseeable future too.

Keeping hand clean by washing hands thoroughly, not just throughout the day, buy when moving onto a different activity will ensure they avoid any cross-contamination, as well as the spread of any bacteria and viruses.

Checklist for teachers as well as pupils

We’ve already established that it’s a good idea to run through health and safety procedures before any experiments are started with students, but it’s also important that teachers have their own checklist to ensure there are no disruptions and everything runs as smoothly as possible.

There are lots out there and you can even have your own, but the following link is to HSE’s, which can be used by class teachers, teaching assistants, premises staff or department heads. Whether you use it at the start of a term or on a more continuous basis, you’ll have something to reassure staff, pupils and parents that the most common areas of risk in the classroom are being adequately controlled.


For further information about health and safety in school labs, check out our laboratory safety equipment post, or feel free to contact EduLab by calling 01366 385777 or email