Early Childhood

The Importance of a Classroom Safety Contract

Throughout elementary, middle, and even high school, students are asked to sign safety contracts at the beginning of the school year. Now as teachers we are being asked to create them. Many times teachers will question why a safety contract is needed when students will just sign it with out even reading it and actually retaining the safety rules of the lab.  So why is keeping a safety contract in the classroom so important? Working in a lab has many dangers that come along with the fun of experimenting. These dangers include, being burnt by hot objects or chemicals, getting a chemical in their eyes, being cut with glass, etc. Students must know the rules of the lab in order to prevent these accidents from happening.  Safety contracts also help with liabilities when it comes to parents. It is a good idea to have the safety contract be signed by a students AND a parent/legal guardian. This way, in case a student does fall under one of the risks while breaking the safety rules, the parent will know that it was the students fault and not the teacher's.  How do we keep students from just brushing off the contract? Students can be informed that they will have a quiz at the end of the week about the safety contract. This will cause students to study the contract and eventually memorize everything in it. 

Caridad Camaraza
Caridad Camaraza
395 Activity Points

I like your thinking on this matter. The safety of students in our classrooms is extremely important today, but the safety of educators is important as well. With the world of education as it is, there is a lot of room for error and we need to prepare ourselves for these risks. I absolutely agree that students should be expected to have their parents sign any form of contracts, for their safety and ours as well.

Ryan Crim
Ryan Crim
390 Activity Points

Hi Caridad,

You bring up a lot of good points about safety in the science lab. There are so many hazards that could happen, and we might not even expect some of them. I am a student teacher at an elementary school, and I recently gave a science lesson. Before my lesson began, I reminded students of the safety rules they should already know before entering a science lesson. I didn't start the year with these students, so I am not sure of how aware they are of safety in the science lab. I found this safety contract that is detailed enough and appropriate for elementary school levels. Hopefully this link would be helpful for elementary school teachers. safety contract

Providing students and their parents with a safety contract is a great idea for liability purposes. I also think this shows students that safety is something that needs to be taken seriously. I think having students do skits to reenact incidents, or watch videos of what could happen if they don't follow safety rules would help them learn them too.

Bianca Balderas
Bianca Balderas
840 Activity Points

On top of a safety contract at the beginning of the year, I think it is crucial for us as teachers to remind our students that these simple safety precautions must be taken outside of the classroom as well. Fo instance, when to wear gloves/protective eyewear in certain situations or even the common sense thoughts of not putting unknown substances in their mouth. We cannot just assume that their parents have taught them these "basic" science precautions but we can make an effort to take these precautions outside of the classroom and into their everyday lifestyle

Nicole Leon
Nicole Leon
640 Activity Points

Good discussion on a critical topic, including using safe behaviors outside of the lab!

A good place for resources and information is NSTA's Safety Resources. As you scroll down, you'll see that the preferred language now is safety "acknowledgement form" rather than contract. The site has examples that are designed for elementary, middle, and high school.

NSTA's Chief Science Safety Compliance Consultant, Dr. Ken Roy, has a blog to which you can post questions or concerns.

Mary B.

Mary Bigelow
Mary Bigelow
9430 Activity Points

A safety contract is a good idea so that student's know what is expected of them and if the parents are asked to sign, the parents know what is expected as well. The contract does provide precautions however I believe that one of the most important things is maintaining a safe learning environment that is fun but never letting the class get out of hand either. Maintaining a tone of a science lab or classroom is something that should be present all year round. A safety contract is a good start and I like the fact that students are quizzed on safety measures because this is the most important thing in a class and unfortunately many times it can be pushed aside or overlooked. Making students really read the contract and memorize it can help in preventing an accident in the classroom.

Ashley Garcia
Ashley Garcia
410 Activity Points

I think a quiz is great, but since lab safety is very important I feel like a game could be better. Maybe you can do a quiz outlaid where you randomly choose a student and ask them a question , if they get it right then they get a point. the top 5 winners will get a prize like chocolate or extra points.

Angelica Munoz
Angelica Munoz
320 Activity Points

Safety should always be discussed before a science lesson, I think that it refreshes students' minds of their expectations and holds them accountable for their actions and behavior during science lessons. I came across these simple safety contracts for elementary, middle and high school. I will attach them below! I also think what Angelica said could be fun. You could maybe even turn science safety into a jeopardy game, that way it's fun and interactive for the kids. https://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/docs/support/scisafe/appendixa.pdf

Danielle Pinto
Danielle Pinto
400 Activity Points

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