Chemical Safety in Schools

Schools have legislative obligations to use and handle chemicals safely. Information on safe handling of chemicals in schools is provided for teachers and students.

Risk assessment

Students should (where possible) carry out a risk assessment for any procedure which involves hazardous or dangerous chemicals. In Stages 4 and 5 students are required to understand, describe and follow safety guidelines. In Stage 6 students are required to carry out a risk assessment to identify and address potential hazards.

A risk assessment requires:

  • an identification of the hazards
  • an assessment of the risk
  • how the risk will be controlled.

A risk assessment for an activity should:

  • list the hazardous or dangerous chemicals to be used or produced during the activity
  • refer to information about the chemicals from labels and information from suppliers, such as material safety data sheets (MSDS)
  • identify important routes of entry to the body and particular reactions
  • identify the risks in the way the chemical will be used
  • state conclusions about the risks and what controls (procedures and equipment) will be used to minimise risk
  • indicate how the chemical will be disposed of safely and responsibly
  • record the name of the person making the risk assessment and the date it was made.

Sample risk assessment

This is an example of a risk assessment on the use of hazardous or dangerous chemicals for an investigation. It could be used with students as a model for any risk assessment.

Hazardous or dangerous chemicals to be used Solid lead metal, lead nitrate (used), lead iodide (produced)
Source/s of safety information chemical labels and MSDS
Identify the hazards

Solid lead metal is not hazardous, but lead metal can have some lead salts on its surface.

Lead salts are highly toxic by all routes of exposure – if ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin or eyes.

Assess the risk

Lead salts from the surface of the solid metal could get on your hands.

The risk from lead salts is much lower if the salts are in very dilute solutions and you make sure that the solution does not get on your skin or in your eyes or mouth.

Control the risk

You can control the risk by:

  • using very low concentrations and very small quantities of solution
  • using eye and skin protection when working with the solutions
  • following good hygiene and experimental practices
  • washing hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling the solutions or solid lead sheets.
Disposal Absorb solutions onto paper towel, seal in a plastic bag and dispose in garbage.
Name/date John/Sample/14 June 2016

Carrying out a risk assessment: a resource document for students and teachers (DOC 46KB) contains a blank scaffold of a risk assessment to use with students.

Return to top of page Back to top