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Health & Safety FAQs

Do I need a departmental Health and Safety policy?

Whilst there is no specific legal requirement for a health and safety policy for each subject area HCC recommend that science departments adapt and adopt the model Health and safety policy for science departments from CLEAPPS L223 and ensure this is linked to the induction of new staff.

How should access to Laboratories be controlled?

Labs, prep rooms and storage rooms should be regarded as hazard areas and access restricted e.g. by keeping them locked when not in use.
Your policy should detail rules for staff use and security, for example, pupils should only be allowed in laboratories under the supervision of qualified science teachers. Where labs are used for non-science activities e.g. as form rooms, the person supervising should be a scientist or have basic training provided about security and lab rules.

What risk assessments do I need to complete?

A risk assessment is needed for any activity in which there is a significant hazard whether carried out pupils, teachers or technicians.

What format should these risk assessments take?

Rather than produce risk assessments on specific forms risk reduction is best achieved by incorporating risk assessments into materials normally used in teaching and annotating texts used daily i.e. schemes of work, lesson plans, worksheets etc. 
In accordance with HSE advice model risk assessments developed by national bodies such as those from CLEAPSS (hazcards, recipe cards, laboratory handbook etc.) are adequate as long as schools satisfy themselves that these are appropriate to their work and adapt them where necessary. It must be possible to evidence that these have been consulted and adapted.

How do I do this in practice?

Heads of department should review courses against the model risk assessments, consider if any adaptation is required for local circumstances and incorporate significant findings into daily use texts. This might involve highlighting hazard warnings and precautions, inserting cross-references in the scheme of work to CLEAPSS (or other) publications.

Individual teachers should also review health and safety warnings in daily use texts such as the scheme of work, again adding or adapting as necessary based upon issues such as the size of room, class size, behaviour of the class to be taught etc.
Consideration should be given as to what warnings to pass on to students (either routine or lesson specific) and whether these are incorporated in worksheets etc.

CLEAPSS L196 Managing risk assessment in science provides detailed guidance and examples of risk assessments in daily use texts.

For technician activities PS25 Model risk assessments for laboratory technician activities should be adapted and adopted.

Where can we get professional development for our technicians?

CLEAPSS technician course 3rd February – Chemical Safety for technicians

This course was over-subscribed, which is great and suggests there is a need to provide more specialised training for technicians in the county.

These are some of the courses are offered by CLEAPSS:

Basic Chemistry skills
Basic Physics skills
Biological Safety
Health and safety for experienced technicians
Basic Microbiology
Running a prep room

What should we offer next for Herts technicians?
Please reply to:

What are the responsibilities of a technician?

Have a search through your new CLEAPSS CDROM. There are documents to support technicians in their duties from:



End of the day ‘aide memoire’

DL248 – 5a

Laboratory weekly checklist

DL248 – 5b

Monthly laboratory checklist

DL248 – 5c

End of the year laboratory checklist

DL248 – 5d

Technicians key annual tasks

DL248 – 5e

Record of annual safety checks

DL248 – 1c

Also really helpful is the information found in L248a Running a Prep Room.

How could you write a technician’s job description?

Key skills of technicians can be found on pp7/8 of L258 Improving technicians’ conditions and key tasks are listed and explained on pp12-16 or G228 Technicians and their jobs.

How do we store chemicals?

CLEAPSS has really clear guidance on what not to store together. The Laboratory Handbook Chemicals Section 7 and E223 Chemical Stocklist.

Please use the information on the CLEAPSS CDROM which has been updated and chuck away your old paper Handbook copy!

Obviously all schools are different and have different facilities for storage so we can’t provide a definitive storage guide


From the Herts Health & Safety Team and the Science Team
February 2010