Health and Safety statement
Please be aware that resources have been published in the eLibrary in the form that they were originally published. This means that procedures in the various resources reflect general practice and standards at the times that the resources were published and cannot be assumed to be acceptable today. eLibrary users are responsible for ensuring that any activity, including practical work, which they carry out is consistent with their current regulations related to Health and Safety.
Before using any resource that includes a practical activity, users should consult, and if necessary adapt, an appropriate employer’s risk assessment. Such risk assessment is the responsibility of the user, and the National STEM Centre does not accept any responsibility and shall not be liable to you or any third party for any losses, damages, claims, expenses or outcomes resulting from the use of material included or referred to on this website. Users should check against current health and safety guidance that has been produced by organisations such as CLEAPSS, SSERC and ASE.
These guidelines refer to procedures in the United Kingdom. If you are working in another country you may need to make alternative provision.
It is assumed that:
- the practical work is carried out or supervised by a qualified teacher with adequate knowledge of their subject and the equipment used,
- practical work is conducted in a properly equipped and maintained laboratory,
- rules for student behaviour are strictly enforced,
- equipment is regularly inspected, properly maintained and appropriate records are kept,
- care is taken with normal laboratory operations such as heating substances and handling heavy objects,
- good laboratory practice is observed,
- eye protection is worn whenever risk assessments require it,
- any fume cupboard used operates at least to the current, nationally-accepted standard (e.g. Building Bulletin 88),
- students are taught safe techniques for such activities as heating chemicals, smelling them, or pouring from bottles,
- hand-washing facilities are readily available.
Teachers' and their employers' responsibilities
Under the COSSH regulations, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Act, and related, Regulations, UK employers are responsible for making a risk assessment before hazardous procedures are undertaken or hazardous materials are used. Teachers are required to co-operate with their employers by complying with such risk assessments.
Therefore, before carrying out any practical activity, teachers should always check that what they are proposing is compatible with their employer’s risk assessments and does not need modification for their particular circumstances. Any local rules or restrictions issued by the employer must always be followed, whatever is recommended here.
Be aware that some activities, such as the use of radioactive material, have particular regulations that must be followed.
Clearly, you must follow whatever procedures for risk assessment your employers have laid down. As far as we know, almost all the practical work and demonstrations on this website, except for those that may be taken from older resources, are covered by the model (general) risk assessments detailed in the below publications, and so, in most schools and colleges, you will not need to take further action, other than to consider whether any customisation is necessary for the particular circumstances of your school or class.
Some of the resources held in the eLibrary were developed at a much earlier date. Since that time there have been significant changes in the rules and guidance affecting laboratory practical work, the use of radioactive sources, the treatment of living organisms, work with microorganisms, experiments using mains electricity and field work, and other areas of the curriculum. Safer procedures have been devised since those days and a few materials and chemicals are no longer permitted for use including, anything made of asbestos (e.g. asbestos mats and asbestos wool) as well as benzene and carbon tetrachloride. Before carrying out any practical work it is the responsibility of the user to check all the details against modern guidelines such as provided, in the UK, by the following publications:
Model (general) risk assessments have been taken from, or are compatible with the guidance available on:
When planning field work outside school, consult local guidelines and, where appropriate, the Department for Education's booklet Health and Safety of Pupils on Educational Visits: http://www.education.gov.uk/aboutdfe/advice/f00191759/departmental-advice-on-health-and-safety-for-schools.
Special risk assessments
You may find practical activities which are not covered by any current model risk assessment. You may, therefore, need a special risk assessment before attempting the activity. Your employer should organise such a risk assessments, or you can contact CLEAPSS or, in Scotland, SSERC who will be able to provide one if you supply all the proposed practical details.
The National STEM Centre is not responsible for the content of external websites which may be linked from pages on this one.
Nothing in this health and safety statement shall operate to exclude liability for fraudulent misrepresentation or for death or personal injury caused by the negligence of the National STEM Centre.
Health and Safety
- What is the National STEM Centre
- May I visit the National STEM Centre?
- How can I find out more about STEM?
- How can I find out about STEM support in my region?
- How do I keep up to date with the National STEM Centre?
- Does the National STEM Centre offer funding for schools, colleges or STEM organisations?
- Does the National STEM Centre offer training?
- How can STEM Associates make use of the National STEM Centre facilities?
- We are interested in collaborating with the National STEM Centre...
- How can I provide feedback?
- Do I need to register to access resources in the eLibrary?
- I'd like to submit a resource review to the eLibrary...
- I am a teacher and would like to share my STEM resources with others. May I submit these to the eLibrary?
- I'm having problems opening certain files in the eLibrary...
- My organisation would like to submit resources to the eLibrary...
- What copyright restrictions apply to resources in the eLibrary?
- I'd like to share my experience of using a resource on the eLibrary. How can I do this?