It takes a team to maintain equipment, storage areas, and facilities so that investigations are conducted in the safest manner possible. Teachers have a responsibility to monitor conditions of instructional and prep areas such as classrooms, lab rooms, and storage rooms.
Work through this resource to gain a better understanding of the roles and responsibilities for maintaining a safe environment in science facilities. But before you begin, check to see what you already know about monitoring safety in lab and classroom areas by participating in the following activity.
Maintenance of Lab Equipment
Teachers have a duty to check the performance of lab equipment and lab safety equipment to ensure proper working order. The condition of equipment and materials such as glassware, chemicals, scalpels, microscopes, and gas burners should be monitored continually and maintained or disposed of properly. Safety equipment such as fire extinguishers, safety showers, eye/face wash stations, fume hoods, and first aid kits should be checked monthly. Report problems with safety equipment to the appropriate campus administrator and/or designated district personnel.
Goggles safety is especially important because students share them. It is imperative that goggles are sterilized between class periods on days when students are participating in lab investigations.
As part of the lab routine, have students place goggles back into the sanitizing cabinet before the end of the class period. Lock the cabinet and begin the 10 minute sanitizing process before the class is dismissed. This way, students in the next class will have access to clean goggles.
Goggles cabinets are locked when in use because of the UV light source used to sanitize the goggles. Goggles cabinets include reflective inner surfaces so that UV rays emitted from the light source can sterilize all surfaces.
Keep a supply of new goggles or goggles lenses and head bands so that this important piece of personal protective gear is ready for use by the next budding scientist.
You can also use alcohol wipes to sterilize goggles, wiping all surfaces, including the strap. However, goggles should occasionally be taken apart and cleaned with warm soapy water.
Keeping it Uncluttered and Organized
How does your laboratory or store room look?
Science teachers have a duty to maintain a clean and organized store room, prep room, and lab room. Aisles are to remain clear in the event you need to exit hurriedly. Chemicals and equipment should be put away in their proper storage areas to prevent contamination, oxidation, exposure, or accidents.
Schedule time with your science team to organize, label, and eliminate the clutter from your science lab and storage room areas. Remember to post a sign to inform students that storage and prep rooms are off limits.
Schedule time each month to check safety equipment to make sure it is available and in working order. Practice an equipment check by clicking equipment in the virtual lab room below. Some of the equipment is animated and some objects are static. Click the clipboard after checking each piece of equipment to document your inspection.
Refer to the Texas Education Agency Texas Safety Standards.pdf file under Appendix E for a copy of a safety checklist to use for your lab room.
In summary, to more fully develop all areas of safety, refer to the following sections in the Texas Education Agency Texas Safety Standards.pdf file: Safety is Everyone's Responsibility, Field Investigations and Activities, Electrical Protection, and Health Concerns.