Are these details included in your Chemical Management Plan?
A student reaction like this is music to any teacher’s ears. And what better way to get this response than through fun, mind-blowing science experiments? Science is a very important part of a student’s educational experience (think asking questions, critical thinking and problem solving). And let’s not forget – science is all around us!
As we start to hit the middle and high school years, many science classes are very hands-on. And once students reach chemistry – things start to get interesting. Chemical reactions are a sight to see, but the associated risks should mean that every school district should have a Chemical Management Plan.
When developing or revamping your Chemical Management Plan, the science department chairperson, and/or chemistry teachers should be responsible for creation and implementation (for example – establishing safety rules, appropriate student training, design of labs and storage rooms, and more). After all, they are the experts.
These plans provide safe guidelines for receiving, handling, storing, utilizing and removing chemicals. Policies and procedures are also a part of these plans to reduce the chance of injury and illness. Because it’s so vital, your Chemical Management Plan should be revisited often to make sure it’s up-to-date. So – when was the last time you looked at yours?
We’ve done our research and gathered some things that science leaders should always keep top-of-mind. Here are 6 things to include in your Chemical Management Plan:
Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)
As part of the OSHA Hazard communication standard, all manufacturers provide Material Safety Data Sheets for the chemicals being delivered to the school. These sheets contain information regarding chemical description, physical characteristics of hazardous chemicals, associated safety and health hazards and details on how to control these hazards. These sheets should be easily accessible in the event of an emergency.
There should be an annual review of inventory to ensure chemicals are properly maintained. And the individual responsible for this step in the Chemical Management Plan should pay close attention to chemicals that have been classified as hazardous by the Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency or any chemical that shows a “2” or higher in the National Fire Protection Association diamond.
Central stock room
- Storage rooms should only hold products that support the curriculum, keeping quantities as low as possible.
- Flammable liquids should be stored in Underwriters Laboratories listed flammable liquid storage cabinets with ventilation according to NFPA 30 standards.
- Acids and alkalis should be separated from one another, and from flammables, and kept below eye level.
- Storage shelves should have a two-inch lip to prevent bottles from rolling off shelves.
All chemicals, whether they’re being used in the lab, in storage or being shipped to waste storage sites, should be labeled with the following information:
- Identity (name)
- Appropriate hazard warnings
- Name and address of the chemical company
When it’s time for removal, guidelines should be put in place to help reduce incidents and injury. Keep these best practices in mind:
- Pouring waste chemicals down drains is unacceptable
- Hoods are not acceptable for disposing volatile chemicals
- Remove waste from labs and storage rooms periodically
- When disposing hazardous waste – turn to a qualified contractor
- For mercury, dispose in accordance with the US EPA, applicable state and local environmental requirements
General safety tips
These may seem obvious, but it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your students, staff and grounds. Here are a few rules that should always be followed:
- Do not touch, taste or smell reagents or chemicals
- Test exhaust hoods and ensure that ventilation is maintained
- When chemicals are present, eating, drinking, smoking and applying cosmetics should be prohibited
- Inspect and wear gloves when there may be potential for chemical contact
- Everyone should wear appropriate eye protection in areas of chemical storage and handling
Science class can be a favorite for many students, and be the driving force in their decisions to pursue the field. Don’t let an incident leave a bad impression. These best practices can help decrease the chance of accidents and injuries and keep class fun, engaging and safe.
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