Teachers should be knowledgeable about the various hazards (both chemical and physical) that are present in a teaching chemistry laboratory. It is important that teachers model best practices for their students, incorporate chemical safety principles into lessons, and enforce safety expectations with a conscious and consistent effort.
The aim of this section is to provide teachers, administrators, and school personnel with an overview of current best practices and resources where further safety information may be located.
*This section is not meant to be an exhaustive source of information on laboratory safety.
Update and Attend Safety Training Regularly
Teachers must receive and update safety training regularly. Recommendations and chemical knowledge frequently change, and it can be a challenge to stay abreast of the latest good practices. Those teachers assigned to be the school Chemical Hygiene Officer (CHO) require extra education and training. Because of the changing nature of the field, professional development should be encouraged and supported by school administrators.
Large school districts may provide this training, but if not, reputable online training courses are available. Flinn Scientific offers extensive training, including a certificate for both middle and high school teachers. AACT also provides safety resources, including student activities in its resource library as well as general information and good practices in its periodical, on its blog, and through webinars.
Many instructors have carried out the classic rainbow demonstration in unsafe ways in recent years. ACS released a safety alert that advises how to conduct the investigation in a safe way.
Download the RAMP Poster to remind students to: Recognize, Assess, Minimize, and Prepare!
The document includes hazards and risks in the laboratory, a list of appropriate laboratory safety equipment, safety rules and procedures, and emergency responses for middle and high school.
Recognize the hazards
Assess the risks of the hazards
Minimize the risks of the hazards
Prepare for emergencies
For students to carry out investigations in a safe environment, the following features should be in each lab space. These items should also be in the classroom if it’s a separate room from the lab where chemical demonstrations will take place. If the chemical storage area is separate from the lab area, these safety features should also be outfitted in the chemical storage area.
Fume hoods and portable safety shields are optional at the middle school level. All safety equipment must be properly maintained and tested on a regular basis.
Learn more about chemical storage and hazardous material disposal.
Eye Wash Station
Chemical Splash Goggles
(1 pair per student)
UV Sterilizing Goggles Cabinet
First Aid Kit
Broken Glass Disposal Bin
(several with hot/cold water)
Paper Towels & Soap
(at each sink)
GFCI Electric Outlets
Fire Blanket (optional;
stop, drop and roll can replace)
ACS Guidelines and Recommendations
for Teaching Middle and High School Chemistry
An essential resource for middle and high school physical science and chemistry teachers, curriculum developers, principals, and other school administrators who support teachers in those roles.
Learn about the nature of instruction, the core ideas to teach, the physical instructional environment, safety, sustainability, and the professional responsibilities of teachers.