Safety is an important goal for all curricular areas of education. Safety issues are a special concern for STEM-based (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities and courses. Many national and state academic standards address the need for schools and subject areas to promote student development of knowledge and abilities in a safe learning environment.
It is the responsibility of the school's administration for providing a learning environment that is safe, up-to-date and supportive of learning. Additionally, teachers are responsible for their students' welfare in the classroom and laboratory.
To ensure the safety of each student, teachers are encouraged to provide a written, comprehensive safety plan to their students. Details about a typical safety plan that may be used as a model can be found in "Advancing Excellence in Technological Literacy: Student Assessment, Professional Development, and Program Standards" (ITEEA, 2003) (Standard P-4, Guidelines C, D and E). Also, "Standards for Technological Literacy: Content for the Study of Technology" (ITEEA 2000/2002/2007) addresses the safe use of technological products and systems from grades K-12 (Standard 12, Benchmarks B, E, I, N and O). Educators may access these documents online at the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association, or ITEEA, Web page: http://www.iteaconnect.org/TAA/Publications/TAA_Publications.html.
Teachers must be knowledgeable and diligent in providing a safe learning environment. Students should receive safety instructions relevant to the topics being taught. Assessments must accompany the lessons on safety, and records must be kept on student results. The teacher must properly supervise students while they are working. The teacher must inspect and maintain equipment and tools to ensure they are in proper working condition. Parents should be informed about the subject in which their child is enrolled and should be educated about the safety plan that is being used. The teacher should develop a safety checklist to assure safe conditions exist and procedures are being followed in the classroom and laboratory.
Below are examples of safety rules that may be used. Teachers should develop their own safety rules to fit the needs of their classroom.
1. Conduct yourself in a responsible and safe manner at all times.
2. Follow all written and verbal instructions carefully. If you do not understand a procedure or how to use a tool, ask your teacher before proceeding.
3. Keep your work area clean at all times.
4. Use proper safety protection, i.e., gloves, goggles, proper clothing.
5. Notify your teacher in an emergency.