9 A balanced approach to risk
Students’ experience of practical science should not be restricted by unnecessary risk aversion.
Responsibility for safety is shared between the school or local authority an employer, the teacher and the technician. This should be clearly understood by all members of science staff.
The school should ensure that teachers and technicians have access to authoritative and up-to-date guidance including model risk assessments.
Teachers should assess the risks and benefits of every practical activity, and act accordingly.
Teachers and technicians should adopt a balanced and proportionate approach.
"Misunderstandings about the application of health and safety law have, in some cases, discouraged schools and teachers from carrying out a range of learning activities both inside and outside the classroom. These misunderstandings can also be fuelled by fears of civil action or concerns about the need for detailed paperwork.
A proportionate approach to the management of health and safety risks in schools is about:
- protecting pupils and staff from real harm
- enabling innovation and learning opportunities to take place by helping those who create the risks to manage them sensibly and responsibly.
It is not about:
- creating a totally risk-free environment
- stifling initiative and stopping learning activities where risks are managed<
- generating mountains of paperwork."
Source: The Scottish School Education Research Centre
- MANAGING RISK ASSESSMENT
Explains in detail what is required and how to ensure the information in employer's model risk assessments are incorporated into teachers' and technicians' practice.
- MAKING AND RECORDING RISK ASSESSMENTS
Advice on preparing risk assessments in science. Includes examples of good practice in recording.
- MODEL RISK ASSESSMENTS FOR LABORATORY TECHNICIAN ACTIVITIES
Includes risk assessments and advice, with the option of customising the document to provide a record of decisions taken.
- MODEL HEALTH AND SAFETY FOR SCIENCE DEPARTMENTS
Everything a secondary science department needs to have in its H&S policy, plus some useful advice for teachers and heads of department.
Advice and guidance for the use of chemicals, including hazard classification and appropriate general control measures.
- RECIPE SHEETS
Guidance from CLEAPSS on how to prepare common solutions, mixtures and reagents.
- DFE GUIDANCE
Storing and disposing of hazardous chemicals in schools.
For schools in England, Northern Ireland and Wales
CLEAPSS advice and guidance, contained in publications such as Hazcards, Practical Procedures and the Recipe Sheets book, is recognised by DFE, Ofsted and the Health and Safety Executive as the definitive basis for safe practice for practical work in schools.