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America’s Lab Report: Investigations in High School Science
TABLE 6-4 Estimated Costs of Improving Laboratory Safety in Chicago Public Schools, 2004
Identify and codify laboratory safety procedures.
Establish clear accountability systems for the maintenance and management of chemical hygiene at local schools.
Establish a science safety manager position.
Identify one chemical hygiene specialist in each school.
Conduct priority removal of potentially hazardous chemicals that may remain in schools.
Deploy a system-wide web-based inventory system to collect and maintain an inventory of chemicals at each school.
Inventory existing chemical supply in schools as part of ongoing chemical hygiene plan. Remove hazardous chemicals from school science laboratories.
Provide baseline safety materials for all classrooms in which science laboratory investigations are taking place.
Roll out a four-tiered training plan focusing on laboratory safety.
Provide a set of “introduction to laboratory safety” lesson plans to be used by science teachers.
SOURCE: Chicago Public Schools, Office of Math and Science.
Frequency of Accidents and Injuries
The weak and limited data available suggest that accidents are not uncommon in high school science laboratories. One study of injury claims related to school science in Iowa found that the number of claims rose from 674 in 1990-1993 to 1,002 in 1993-1996, and the cost to insurance companies rose from $1.68 to $2.3 million. The authors found that the number of law-suits grew from 96 to 245, and awards in these suits grew from $566,305 to $1.2 million (Gerlovich et al., 2002).