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Tech Reporting

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Submitted By Lucky3
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Academic Laboratory Science
Concern for Student Safety

Prepared By: Nyaira L. Barrett (Nya) Prepared For: Mr. Bill Ebbesen
Technical Reporting April 19, 2015

Executive Summary
Purposes of the Report
The purpose of this recommendation report is to identify the underlying causes of academic lab safety and give recommendations on how these safety issues can be resolved so that future accidents can be avoided. The topics discussed in this report will help to determine the appropriate course of actions that need to be taken to ensure that all students and staff whom conduct lab experiments do so with the upmost caution. There is a growing concern for the safety of both staff and students that does not seem to lower the risks that these people are being put in. The importance of proper training and education on lab safety can help to resolve future issues.

Academic Lab Safety: Ensuring the Safety of Our Students
This research conducted is to help improve the improper management of academic labs by providing safety education and encouraging the correct training on safety. If the requirements of lab safety training are being met, then staff and student safety can be reduce to a minimum. Without the proper safety practices during experiments in the lab, many more students and staff will continue to be hurt and the future of academic labs may cease to exist based on the lack of funding that may or may not be provided to continue to educate students on how experiments and science work.

The recommendations of this report include: Never conduct experiments in the laboratory alone or perform unauthorized experiments. Limit science classes to 24 students or less for safety. Check state science supervisor for state recommendations. Ensure that all staff are properly trained. Practice any and all expected lab safety standards. Always report any and all lab related incidents immediately, no matter how small

More and more students are becoming at risk each time they step in academic labs and engage with the provided equipment, such as Bunsen Burners and highly flammable chemicals says member of KCUR Matt Hackworth. (Feller, 2005)
There has become a major concern for lack of safety in academic labs over the last several years. According to reports, the issue of failing to report accidents in labs and improper training of the staff and students, has become fairly common among many universities and schools that contain academic labs. (Benderly B. L., Are University Labs Criminally Dangerous?, 2012).
KCUR member and safety expert Matt Hackworth states that, safety for staff and students should be the number one priority when dealing with academic labs. Failure to provide a staff with the required training and students with adequate science equipment is a recipe for disaster. Unsafe practices of in labs is a direct violation of all standard protocols and procedures. One can only expect fatal outcomes (Feller, 2005).
This report will highlight the importance of academic laboratory safety and how failure to report incidents, even minor ones can be very detrimental to the safety of students and staff. As well as go into detail as to why so many heinous accidents involving serious injury and/or death continues to occur due to breach of lab safety protocol. (Hoff, 2003).

Purpose Statement
Lack of safety in academic laboratories puts students at risk due to inadequate training and failure to report lab related incidents. The following research recommendation report will address the growing safety concerns in academic laboratories. Mainly this report will go into the various details of data collected on whether or not failure to properly file incident/accident reports and the lack of laboratory training is becoming the leading cause to the majority of the accidents in labs nationwide.

This report will include information on the standard operating procedures and protocols of academic lab safety. There will be information and examples on the main causes of laboratory safety issues and why this subject continues to be a growing problem. This report contains gathered data on the various injuries that often occur in a classroom setting and surveys and interviews that show the percentages of these recorded injuries.

There are also expert opinions included in this report that allows for a better view of what the situation is and how teachers of science can get a better handle on the problem. This report gives a clear understanding of how possible funding cuts could also play a part in why so many accidents go unreported.

This report does not contain information on any other research science labs other than academic labs. It does not contain any information on the amount of injuries that have been reported over the years as well as whether or not certain safety policies and procedures will be enforced in the next few years.

The sources used in this report were obtained from various peer-reviewed articles, journals, and data bases, such as Ebscohost. The experts that were quoted, are well known researchers and are highly recognized in their field of work. All of the sources used were qualified and are mainly used for educational purposes. However, there were no sources used from any books, due to the fact that no could be found.

Expected Lab Safety Standards
Many academic labs are not up to the basic requirement standards that were put into place to ensure the safety of the staff and students, which was started by a prominent adviser to a private Natural Research Council. According to research reports, to ensure that the risks to teachers and students during procedures in academic labs remains low, any and all contact with chemicals and other potentially dangerous equipment, many safety measures must be put into place. * * All staff must be properly trained and familiarize themselves with laboratory protocol on general lab safety procedures, CPR and First Aide, as well as know how to reduce fires and hazards and understand the importance of reporting any and all lab related accidents (Council Committee on Chemical Safety Pg.#2, 2003). * * Academic labs can be one of the most dangerous places for teachers and students alike. “Accidents will happen, but training and supervision are key to keeping the laboratory a safer place” (pg.3), states Safer Science Journalist and Director of Environmental Health and Safety expert, Ken Roy. (Roy, 2013).
It is the duty of all academic laboratories to provide adequate supervision to all staff and strongly enforce that all safety standards and practices must be followed at all times. Incidents such as children being electrocuted, being burned, and other injuries occurring has cause many lawsuits to come up in court. All of these incidents could have been avoided with a better handle of safety in academic labs.
It seems that labs are becoming a very serious place for injury to occur in many academic settings. Some feel that there isn’t much being done to ensure the safety of the students while doing experiments in academic labs. “It’s difficult to identify the number of science-lab accidents every year. Many minor accidents go unreported, and no central researcher collects information about national injury rate.” (pg.2), according to Ms. West, a Southwest Texas University researcher. (Hoff, 2003).
Teachers have duplicated certain experiments several times throughout their careers without any issues in the past, but they might need to consider if these procedures are still safe even though nothing has happen before. Some states are even going as far as having their staff join workshops and seminars on lab safety, but these don’t seem to be very useful.
Experts feel that all students and staff need to continue to keep their knowledge on lab safety intact and also look into newer information provided and make necessary changes as well. Lab safety requires lots of training and commitment from all those involve. (Hoff, 2003).

Causes of Academic Lab Safety Issues
The frequency of academic research lab accidents is 10 to 50 times greater than it is in industrial research labs. All because protocols are less likely to be followed and many of the accidents are brushed aside and are never reported.

Many times, accidents can be prevented by something as simple as a protective shield that can be used between the students and any experiment that uses flammable materials and making sure that every student is wearing some sort of protective equipment. (Hoff, 2003)

Large class room sizes has also become a concern for many. Students are at more risk if the class sizes are overwhelming for one teacher to ensure the safety of the students while conducting experiments. By maintaining smaller classrooms during lab experiments, the risk of injury to students can be extremely minimized.

Most teachers and staff tend to lead classes that are much larger than the recommended class size. Another violation of the standard safety protocol that gets disregarded regularly. Because many classrooms are overcrowded, the chance of accidents can increase even more.

Again, these issues can be avoided even in larger classrooms just by simply enforcing students to put on their protective gear, which many staff in academic labs fail to do. (Hoff, 2003)

Many times teachers tend to start experiments without understanding or explaining the clear goals or stress the importance to lab safety. Before starting any experiment in a lab, all teachers need to ask themselves a series of questions; What can go wrong? What can be done to minimize risks of an experiment? What can be done if something does go wrong?

Asking these questions could possibly save a life. “Nine times out of ten, lab accidents are caused by operator error” (pg.6.), observes Johnson & Johnson Quality Control Plant Manager, John Welsh. (Welsh, 2011).

Often enough many accidents in labs tend to occur due to operator fatigue, not paying attention, or from being in too much of a haste. Other common causes for academic lab incidents tend to be from improper use of equipment, or from using the wrong tool for the job, and poor equipment maintenance.

Many of the schools across the country are facing issues of not having regular scheduled maintenance to ensure that the lab equipment is safe to use for both staff and students. (Welsh, 2011).

Figure 1. Displays a survey done in 2008 on collected information about the types of injuries that students usually sustain during lab experiments. Whereas Figure 2. Tells us the main causes of why these injuries seem to continue to occur.

These surveys and interviews are mainly used to help assess safety concerns and to improve on school policies (Safety Wise Corp. Pg.#3, 2008).
Survey on the Types of Sustained Student Injuries
Figure 1. (Safety Wise Corp. Pg.#3, 2008)
This Figure shows the certain types of injuries students usually obtain during science experiments in a lab when there are possible safety issues around. As you can see lacerations/cuts/and bites are the most common among all the injuries.

Common Causes for Lab Related Student Injuries

Figure 2. (Safety Wise Corp. Pg.#3, 2008)
Figure 2. Gives us a brief idea on why injuries keep occurring in academic labs. The main reasons being negligence and unsafe process or improper procedures.
Although many reasons are mentioned in Figure 2. about the causes of lab safety issues, research has shown that one of the main reasons for student and staff injury is failure to report prior lab related injuries. One of the biggest mistakes that can be made is not reporting that someone was previously injured.

At all times, staff and students should be kept aware of any incidents that occur in the lab so that they can continually be conscious of safety and learn from other people's mistakes.

In December of 2008, a University of California student was severely injured. This student was burned over 40 percent of her body and eventually died from her injuries three weeks later. Many safety standards were not followed and this student was not properly trained and lacked the proper equipment, and attire needed to work safely in the lab prior to the incident.

This accident could have been prevented if the numerous of other accidents were properly reported and an investigation could have occurred to ensure that all lab safety standards and procedures were being correctly followed. (Benderly B. L., 2012).

Lab mishaps go unreported most often because no one person wants to be held accountable for any wrong doing. There are more than 3-4 accidents, whether major or minor, that occur in an academic classrooms each week, but only a few of those incidents ever get reported. No one person can really say exactly how many incidents occur in the lab because no one tracks them regularly.

Many researchers will even go as far as to say that the main reason that academic lab accident reports aren’t properly being filed is because of the fact that the schools don’t want to lose research and lab funding or risk damaging powerful professional careers.

Most schools receive grants and state funding to continue with research or to help teachers to demonstrate how science works in classroom settings.
The scary part about school lab safety management is that no one wants to take responsibility. School committees feel that the more accidents that are being reported, the less funding they can expect to come in.

President of the Laboratory Safety Institute in Natick, Massachusetts states, that he often wonders if funding agencies such as the National Institutes of Health look at the safety records before considering giving any funding to a school.

Whether or not this idea holds merit, many still continue turning a blind eye to the lack of lab safety, regardless of the consequences. (Benderly B. L., 2010).

Figures 3. Shows another example of poor lab safety procedures and lack of reporting related incidents. Because of a previous explosion not being reported, the same mistakes were continually being made in the science lab. A mixture of outdated chemicals and students improper handling caused the chemicals being used to exploded.

The classroom was completely engulfed in flames and quickly filled with smoke so thick that one could see in the lab. Thankfully, everyone in the lab was safely evacuated and there were no serious injuries.

Despite incidents like this occurring and the tremendous amount information available on the subject, lab safety still continues to be a large issue throughout the country. (Toreki, 2013).

Lab Related Accidents From Lack of Safety and Improper Reporting

Figure 3. Shows how the other glass fragments from the explosion traveled up to 10 meters from the hood; some were found imbedded up to 20 mm deep in the fume hood ductwork insulation. Figure 3. (Toreki, 2013)

What the Experts are saying
Many experts feel that accidents can be prevented by ensuring certain safety procedures and being taken such as smaller class sizes, more classroom space, expanding student and staff knowledge on safety practices, using caution with chemicals, and ensuring that are dress codes in place as well.
Lab safety experts, such as James Kaufman states that, “The rate of serious mishaps in industrial labs is lower than that of academic labs, in part because industrial labs are more tightly regulated.” (pg.1.) (Benderly B. L., 2012).

Many safety concerns could possibly be eliminated by making corrections as soon as they happen and by making sure that both students and staff are properly trained and are provided with adequate protective gear.
Professional science-teacher organizations such as the National Science-Teacher Association (NSTA) continue to try and figure out ways to help save academic labs from such disasters as the one at the University of California, by gathering and collecting information that can be used as a standard practice, including information regarding legal safety practices as well. This standards will be expectations of all academic labs nationwide. (Roy, 2013).
Several researchers in the science field, fell that it may be necessary to have both students and parents to participate in a safety knowledge course and sign safety forms to clearly explains the standard operating procedures of academic lab safety prior to any student entering a science classroom.
While many others would like to see that teachers should appropriately model any procedures for the National Science-Teacher Association (NSTA) before being able to teach such protocols to the students.
According to a National Science-Teacher Association (NSTA) Science as well as a Chemical Safety Compliance consultant, each school district should have an updated standard Chemical Hygiene Plan as well as a Chemical Hygiene Officer that oversees the proper implication of the safety procedures in academic classroom labs. (Roy, 2013).

Based on the various research and collection of data, several conclusions can be reached. Lack of safety in academic laboratories due to inadequate training and failure to report lab related incidents does place many students and staff at risk. There are many experts on lab safety, and many of the staff who teach lab science have gone through years of training, yet more and more academic lab related injuries are occurring each year.

According to the research that was done, the main reason is the disregard for safety and the failure to properly report any and all injury related incidents to prevent future accidents from occurring. There could be a near elimination of injuries if protocol was regularly followed. The problem with academic lab safety issues, is that once these behaviors are learned by students and aren’t corrected immediately, these habits will simply be carried over into future jobs and careers, where serious consequences will follow.

Recommendations In conclusion, the benefits of following proper safety protocol in academic labs could be the difference between a successful classroom experiments and someone seriously getting unnecessarily injured. To ensure the safety of all students and staff in an academic lab, the following actions are recommended: * Set good safety examples when conducting demonstrations and experiments. * Never conduct experiments in the laboratory alone or perform unauthorized experiments. * Ensure yearly inspection of the laboratory's electrical, gas, and water systems. * Ensure that lab safety equipment is appropriate to use, such as emergency shower, and eye-wash station. * Limit science classes to 24 students or less for safety. * Check state science supervisor for state recommendations. * Always use Personal Safety Practices. * Always report any and all lab related incidents immediately, no matter how small. * Ensure that all staff are properly trained. * Practice any and all expected lab safety standards

If these recommendations are followed, the safety of staff and students alike can be ensured. These recommendations do not vary based on the level or class size of the academic lab. They are basic guidelines that any and all labs should follow.
Benderly, B. L. (2010, July 1). Danger in School Labs . Scientific American, 4. Retrieved April 19, 2015, from
Benderly, B. L. (2012, March 1). Are University Labs Criminally Dangerous? Scientific American, 306(3), 3. Retrieved April 19, 2015, from
Benderly, B. L. (2012, March 1). Are University Labs Criminally Dangerous? . Scientific American, 306(3), 19. Retrieved April 19, 2015, from
Council Committee on Chemical Safety Pg.#2. (2003). Safety in Academic Chemistry Laboratories (7th ed., Vol. 2). Washington DC: American Chemical Society. Retrieved April 19th, 2015, from
Feller, B. P. (2005, August 8). Studty Quality of High School Labs . AP Education, 3. Retrieved April 19, 2015, from
Hoff, D. J. (2003, April 30). Science-Lab Safety Upgraded Afeter Mishaps . Education Week, 6. Retrieved April 19, 2015, from
Roy, K. P. (2013, February). Best Practices for Safety Issues in the Science Classroom and Laboratory . Safer Science, 80(2), 8. Retrieved April 19th, 2015, from
Safety Wise Corp. Pg.#3. (2008). Number of Work/StudyRelated Injuries . HKUST Accident/Incident Statistics For 2008, 16-20. Retrieved April 19, 2015, from
Toreki, R. P. (2013, February 20). What Can Happen When You Don't Follow Safety Rules. Lab Safety, 6. Retrieved April 19, 2015, from
Welsh, J. P. (2011, March 6). Lab Safety Requirements . Safety in being Safe, p. 12. Retrieved April 19, 2015, from



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