Why Is Safety Important in a Science Lab?

by Kristine Tucker Google

Safety is important in middle-school and high-school science labs to ensure students and teachers stay out of harm's way. Science classrooms often have equipment -- such as Bunsen burners, chemicals and sharp tools -- that pose potential hazards if used improperly. Teachers and school administrators don't have the time or the budget to deal with liability lawsuits, and dangerous incidents could damage the school's and the teacher's reputation.

Prevents Harm to Students and Teachers

Preteen and teenage students aren't always cautious or predictable, and unsafe science labs could result in damage to school property, serious injuries or death. Without proper instruction and security measures, students might cause explosions, get chemical burns, misuse testing equipment and forget to use fume hoods or shutoff switches, according to the National Science Teachers Association. Safe labs ensure that students and teachers don't have to deal with the physical, psychological or financial damage caused by science experiments gone awry.

Ensures Teachers Maintain Good Reputations

Safe science labs reflect positively on teachers whose top priority is to ensure their students remain safe during lab experiments. Even teachers who have 25 or more students in their science labs must prevent mishaps. For example, they must carefully label all chemicals, bottles and ingredients, store acids and bases separately and ensure students use equipment properly, according to the Lab Safety Institute. They teach students important cleanup procedures and disposal methods. Their reputations as certified, licensed teachers rests on their ability to prevent explosions, chemical spills and contamination. Without safety protocols in place, teachers could lose their teaching licenses or gain reputations for being unreliable, incompetent educators.

Carries Into Adulthood

Middle-school and high-school lab safety is important because it teaches students how to conduct themselves as laboratory professionals, which prepares them for college-level science labs and career positions. Knowledgeable, equipped, safety-conscious students take safety measures with them into adulthood, learning to think first before they dive into potentially dangerous experiments and laboratory tests. Secondary teachers who model effective lab safety give students a jump start in the field of science.

Encourages Teamwork and Responsibility

Maintaining a safe science lab helps students learn teamwork and responsibility. Science labs aren't like English or social studies classrooms; students have to exercise attentiveness, conscientiousness and concern for the welfare of others as a slip-up can have serious repercussions in a lab setting. Science lab safety teaches students to make decisions that benefit the group, not just the individual.

About the Author

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.

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