Every teaching environment is different, with wide-ranging considerations that influence the way science is taught.
This set of sample safety guidelines is provided as a model for teachers and administrators to adopt and adapt to best suit their needs.
To reinforce the student code of conduct with both students and families, we recommend adoption of a Safety Contract. It, too, is adaptable according to needs.
Student Laboratory Code of Conduct for Secondary Science Program
Chemical laboratory classes include hands-on, inquiry-based investigations. Some secondary-level laboratory activities involve the use of chemicals or equipment that may pose a health or safety danger to students and teachers if not handled properly. To ensure a safe and healthy environment in our classrooms and laboratories, these Student Laboratory Code of Conduct has been developed.
Students will receive two copies of this Code of Conduct during the first meeting of the class. The students and their parents or guardians must sign the Code and return a signed copy to their teacher before the students can participate in any laboratory work or handle chemicals. The students should keep the second copy in their class notebooks as a reminder of appropriate behavior.
- Students should behave in a mature and responsible manner at all times in the laboratory or wherever chemicals are stored or handled. All inappropriate behavior is especially prohibited.
- Students must follow all verbal and written instructions carefully. If you are unsure of the procedure, ask your teacher for help before proceeding.
- Students should not touch any equipment or chemicals unless specifically instructed to do so.
- Students must not eat, drink, apply cosmetics, or chew gum in the laboratory. Wash hands thoroughly after participating in any laboratory activities.
- Students must perform only those experiments authorized by the teacher.
- Students will receive training related to the locations and operating procedures for all applicable laboratory safety equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE).
Handling Chemicals and Equipment
- Students must properly dispose of all chemical waste, as directed.
- Students must never enter or remain in the science laboratory storage rooms or preparation areas unless accompanied by a teacher or a designated school employee.
- Students must wear American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-approved eye protection whenever chemicals, heat, or glassware are used by either the teacher or the students in the laboratory. Students should wear appropriate personal apparel at all times in the laboratory and also avoid wearing loose or flammable clothing; long hair should be tied back.
- Students must report any incident (including all spills, breakages, or other releases of hazardous materials) to the teacher immediately—no matter how insignificant it may appear. This should include all injuries such as cuts, burns, breathing problems, or other signs of physical harm. It is encouraged that students also report incidents that do not result in physical harm, so that lessons can be learned from these “near misses”.
- Students must never remove chemicals, equipment, or supplies from the laboratory area.
- Students must carefully examine all equipment before each use and report any broken or defective equipment to the teacher immediately.
- Students must never reach over an exposed flame or hot plate, or leave a flame or hot plate unattended.
- Students must never point a test tube or reaction vessel of any type toward another person.
Response to Violations of the Student Laboratory Code of Conduct
Verbal reprimand from the teacher, with a written record of the violation maintained. The teacher will review the rule with the student. If this is a serious violation, which may have caused harm to human health or the environment, the parents or guardians will also be notified.
The student will be suspended from laboratory work immediately and sent to the appropriate grade-level administrative office, with a disciplinary referral from the teacher. A written notification about the consequences for the student will also be sent to the parents or guardians. The student will not be permitted to return to laboratory work for one week, with alternative work assignment(s) to be provided in a supervised setting as determined by the building administration.
The student will be suspended from laboratory work immediately and sent to the appropriate grade-level administrative office, with a disciplinary referral from the teacher. Written notification will also be sent to the parents or guardians, and a mandatory conference will be scheduled with the parents or guardians, teacher, and building administrator. Depending on the result of that conference, the student may be suspended from laboratory operations for the remainder of the school year. If this occurs, the student will be assigned alternative work assignment(s) to be provided in a supervised setting as determined by the building administration. In addition, the student may be required to schedule an alternative laboratory science course to satisfy any state graduation requirements.