Laboratories are dangerous places. Accidents are just waiting to happen, and schools must have stringent safety procedures in place for these more dangerous environments. All schools have safety policies, but when it comes to labs and the work done there, it is vital to have a sound first aid kit in place. All schools should consider what first aid supplies are needed for working labs – including the sciences, home economics and wood or metalwork classes. These are items which should be considered necessities.
1 – A first aid book or poster pertinent to the class – With the best will in the world, accidents can and do happen when no first-aider is around. Having a clearly written and illustrated book or poster, readily accessible is vital to ensuring correct treatment even without a trained first-aider present. An excellent example of a science lab first aid poster is available here.
2 – Personal protection – It is important that the person administering first aid is themselves protected. Blood and bodily fluids can contain diseases which are readily passed between people. Gloves, goggles and a face mask should all be included in the first aid kit.
3 – First aid kit – This would include bandages, plasters, tape, splints, eye baths, instant ice packs, slings and splints. Also useful would be blunt scissors, tongue depressors, tweezers and possibly a penlight to aid visual inspection, especially for mouth injuries. An example of a school first aid kit can be found here.
4 – CPR – This is vital. There should be a CPR advice leaflet in every first aid kit. It should be simple and clear, able to be used by anyone, not just someone with first aid training. An example of a free CPR poster can be found here.
5 – It is also useful to have instructions for students in the event of an emergency. Often, when an emergency strikes, despite adequate supplies of first aid posters and kits, the wrong treatment is given, or action is delayed, simply because no-one knows what to do. Talking to students, giving them helpful instructions as to what they should do in a given emergency, may save a life or permanent injury.
The most important point about safety in school laboratories is information and preparation. If students and teachers are well informed about safety procedures and understand what to do in an emergency situation, the school is less likely to have serious injury occur. Being prepared with the right first aid supplies, knowing how and when to use the kits means that situations which do occur will be dealt with promptly and correctly.