About the Science Safety Handbook for California Public Schools

About the Science Safety Handbook for California Public Schools
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  • 0:01 The Science Safety Handbook
  • 1:18 Chapters 1-3: General…
  • 2:47 Chapters 4 & 5
  • 3:28 Chapters 6-8: Specific…
  • 4:45 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sarah Friedl

Sarah has two Master's, one in Zoology and one in GIS, a Bachelor's in Biology, and has taught college level Physical Science and Biology.

Taking the CSET exam for science teachers? One thing you'll be tested on is the Science Safety Handbook for California Public Schools. We'll provide you with a brief overview of the document in this lesson so you'll have an idea of what's on the exam.

The Science Safety Handbook

One of the most important parts of teaching science is providing a safe learning environment. Science lessons often involve things like laboratory equipment, chemicals, and specimens (live or preserved), and improper use of these can lead to accidents where people get hurt.

Luckily, there's a very detailed publication available on the California Department of Education's website called The Science Safety Handbook for California Public Schools. This document is designed to help California science teachers, administrators, and school staff avoid accidents and potentially dangerous situations in the science classroom and lab. It's a really long document - almost 300 pages! But it's a very useful handbook for anyone who is teaching science, from elementary through high school grades, in this state.

We're certainly not going to present all of the material in the Handbook in this lesson! But we'll definitely go through the main points to give you a feel for what the document covers. This video is not a replacement for reading the Handbook, the contents of which you will be tested on in the CSET exam for science teachers. You should absolutely take the time to familiarize yourself with the information it contains on your own time, but for now, this lesson will give you a broad overview as a start.

Chapters 1-3: General Information

The first three chapters of the Safety Handbook provide a nice introduction to safety while teaching science. Chapter 1 goes over some preliminary but important information, such as the responsibilities of both parents and students, appropriate number of students in a lab class, basics on reducing risks of injury, and emergency procedures of the school districts. These topics may seem humdrum, but they're necessary to cover because they will help you structure your classes and labs to be safe, and lab safety and lab fun go hand in hand.

Next, in Chapter 2 is detailed information about first aid for a multitude of possible situations. Burns, eye injuries, exposure to poisons, and shock are probably the most common incidents in science labs and classes. But if you take your class outside to explore the woods, you may very likely encounter animals that cause harm too, such as spiders, snakes, insects, and mammals. You can prepare yourself for dealing with these types of injuries in this chapter as well.

Chapter 3 covers general lab safety precautions. This includes safe chemical handling and storage; emergency eyewash and shower station use; basic lab rules that involve things like food, drink, and proper clothing; protective gear, such as safety goggles, gloves, and lab coats; how to clean up lab spills; proper waste disposal; and much, much more. This can be tedious information, but the importance of it can't be stressed enough.

Chapters 4 & 5

If you're planning on teaching elementary school, Chapter 4 is one that you should know very well. This chapter covers safety in the elementary science classroom: appropriate class size, safety checklists, use of chemicals and animals in the classroom, plants in the classroom, and field trips that are specifically appropriate for elementary-level students.

Chapter 5 is called 'Additional Safety Practices,' which sounds kind of vague, but it actually gets really specific about certain safety hazards that you'll want to familiarize yourself with. This chapter covers fire prevention and control, earthquake preparedness, minimizing hazardous waste, and even how to deal with exposure to blood-borne pathogens.

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