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Safe Labs for Science: an interactive approach to safety training

Safe working in Chemistry involves critical analysis interactive thinking and the evolving application of risk assessment to procedure reagent and environment. It also requires cooperation and teamwork. These are transferable skills that all scientists should possess but safety training is too often presented to undergraduate students as a set of rules with little rationale offered to justify them. Attempts to go beyond a set of rules are frequently perceived by students and academics as tedious if not outright boring –however necessary they may be.

We describe the first stages of development of a safety training component for mainstream Chemistry courses that will allow students to identify safe and unsafe practices undertake formal risk assessment and enable them to improve the safety of their own environment. Our starting point is a Safety Training Workshop for our own 3rd year undergraduates including case studies a (competitive) team exercise (a lab ‘scavenger hunt’) and electronic self-testing designed to alleviate the tedium. They also emphasise the cooperative nature of safe working and encourage teamwork – aspects which are normally neglected in degree programmes in Science. We also report on the positive student response.

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The materials published on this page were originally created by the Higher Education Academy.