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ERIC Number: ED520337
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Sep
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 17
Liability of Science Educators for Laboratory Safety. NSTA Position Statement
National Science Teachers Association (NJ1)
Laboratory investigations are essential for the effective teaching and learning of science. A school laboratory investigation ("lab") is an experience in the laboratory, classroom, or the field that provides students with opportunities to interact directly with natural phenomena or with data collected by others using tools, materials, data collection techniques, and models (NRC 2006, p. 3). Inherent in laboratory-based activities is the potential for injury. Studies show that safety in K-12 school science instruction needs immediate and significant attention. (Gerlovich et al. 2005) As professionals, teachers of science have a duty of care to ensure the safety of students, teachers, and staff. Duty of care is defined as an obligation, recognized by law, requiring conformance to a certain standard of conduct to protect others against unreasonable risk (Prosser et al. 1984). "The breach of a particular duty owed to a student or others may lead to liability for both the teacher and the school district that employs that teacher" (Ryan 2001). As such, science educators must act as a reasonably prudent person would in providing and maintaining a safe learning environment for their students. Educators' duty to maintain a safe learning environment while providing science instruction also must be shared by school leaders, district administrators, school boards, parents, and students. It is vital that teachers and administrators communicate regularly and fully on the essentials of safe instruction for students. This paper presents NSTA's recommendations for practicing laboratory safety. (Contains 6 resources.)
National Science Teachers Association. 1840 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22201-3000. Tel: 800-722-6782; Fax: 703-243-3924; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)