This month's article from the NSTA Safety blog at
Safety Training for Non-Science Instructors
Unlike science teachers, non-science educators have little to no training in hazard analysis, risk assessment, or safety-related issues. As a result, non-science employees, such as teachers of other subjects or special education and paraprofessionals, need to learn about the duty or standard of care before entering the science classroom or lab. Otherwise science teachers could be liable should the non-science professionals or students become injured in the science lab.
A safer working environment
There are a number of legal safety standards and better professional safety practices that apply to both students and any school employee working in a science laboratory. To begin, many OSHA safety standards are applicable to employees working in science labs or any other area where there are potentially hazardous chemicals. For example, according to OSHA, the purpose of the Hazard Communication Standard 29 CFR 1910.1200 (HCS) is ‰??to ensure that the hazards of all chemicals produced or imported are evaluated and details regarding their hazards are transmitted to employers and employees.‰??
Few administrators or supervisors in school follow the basic principles of the HazCom Standard. They fail to transmit the chemical hazard details via formal staff training. In other words, non-science teachers assigned to science labs lack the awareness and understanding of chemical hazards and resulting risks present in the science lab. Hazards can arise in the classroom even if the non-science teacher does not directly work with the chemicals. For example, a non-science professional might not be prepared if a bottle of alcohol or acid inadvertently smashed and splashed a laboratory occupant. Another example is a gas leak. A science educator would know where to locate the master gas shutoff, but a math teacher might need assistance due to a lack of training.
Many OSHA standards also provide rules that protect workers in laboratories from chemical, biological, physical, and safety hazards. For example, there can be potential exposures to electrical hazards resulting from faulty electrical equipment/instrumentation or wiring, damaged receptacles and connectors, or unsafe work practices. Students off-task playing with electrical sources could potentially receive electrical shock or even worse ‰?? electrocution!
(more at URL above)
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