9. Earth/Space Science Laboratory Safety Specifications
In this section:
Astronomical events such as viewing a solar eclipse are a great opportunity for learning, but safety precautions must be addressed.
- Never look directly at the sun, including during a solar eclipse. Permanent eye damage is likely to take place.
- Properly constructed pinhole viewers are a safe way to view the sun.
- Never view the sun directly through binoculars or telescopes. This can cause blindness.
- Never use sunglasses or exposed film to view the sun. They do not provide appropriate protection.
- Rock and Mineral Study: Use the following precautions in working with rocks and minerals in the laboratory:
- Use appropriate personal protective equipment such as chemical splash goggles, gloves and aprons.
- Use a heavy canvas bag when breaking up rock/mineral samples.
- Use proper geologic hammer technique.
- Never work with radioactive rocks or specimens.
- Geological field experience: Geological field experiences can be exciting and academically rewarding. The following safety precautions should be addressed in preparation for the trip:
- Secure information relative to medical conditions in preparation for the field activity from the school nurse and parents. Plan for administration of medication as necessary.
- Wear appropriate clothing for the weather conditions.
- Use sun sense by wearing appropriate clothing and head gear.
- Use appropriate footwear such as boots or sneakers. Flip flops and sandals are unacceptable.
- Wear safety glasses or goggles with an ANSI Z87.1 rating. Quarry and cliff type work require use of a safety helmet.
- Tetanus shots are suggested.
- Rocks and boulders should never be thrown or rolled on the field site. Never touch or try moving rotten trees.
- Use caution when hammering rocks.
- Use caution when standing near the foot of a cliff.
- Ultraviolet Light: The use of ultraviolet light for mineral study can be dangerous and should be done only as a teacher demonstration.
- Protect eyes and skin from exposure of ultraviolet transilluminators.
- Wear UV protection rated chemical safety goggles.
- Wear long sleeve shirts and lab coat with gloves.
- Only use a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protected electrical receptacle for the lamp.
- Never operate the lamp near water sources.
- Never disassemble the lamp when plugged in – this is a high voltage power supply device.
C. Water Studies:
- Marine Field Trips: Marine field trips can be useful activities to expand and apply classroom studies. Consider the following safety procedures when planning:
- Review weather predictions and prepare appropriately.
- Make sure students do not have any open wounds, sores, cuts, etc. prior to going into the water.
- Review field hazards and emergency plans with students prior to the start of the activity.
- Use foot protection and chemical splash goggles
- Be aware of broken glass, fish hooks, rocks and other sharps.
- Be watchful for poisonous or stinging marine dwellers like jellyfish, man-of-war.
- Always establish boundaries for the area of study.
- Provide life jacket for students entering water.
- Use sun sense by applying sun screen and appropriate clothing/hat.
- One adult should be on beach watch at all times in view of the boundary area.
- Remember to bring a cell phone, first aid kit and blanket for emergencies.
- Stream Tables: Stream tables can be can effective learning tools. Use the following safety precautions:
- Check the table out for leaks, including drain hoses.
- Wipe up any spilled water immediately to avoid creating a slip and fall hazard.
- Electrical receptacles should be GFCI protected.
- Have catch water buckets or receptacles available to catch overflow.
D. Weather Studies:
Weather studies often involve building of weather station equipment. Plan on taking the following safety precautions:
- Safety precautions need to be addressed and in place when using power tools, electrical devices, hand tools and sharp objects to build equipment. Be certain to file down or sand any sharp edges on materials used to construct weather station equipment after being cut. Never use equipment containing mercury such as thermometers or sling psychrometers.
- Only adults with formal roof walking and fall protection training should be securing equipment on the roof of a building.