It is not at all clear which institutions are the culprits in this but she should not extrapolate from her experience to assume that such an approach is widely supported.
The Association for Science Education has for many years advised on safety in science, always in the context of retaining, if not increasing, interesting and exciting practical activities.
If she would therefore read the association's safety publications, or indeed the Department for Education and Employment's Safety in science education, Helen would discover that practical work with lungs or the sampling of human cheek cells is perfectly acceptable, without the need for any unreasonable paperwork, providing a few simple precautions are taken.
Safety in science education is important. There is no excuse for exposing students or teachers to unnecessary risks. However this does not translate into removing the fun from practical work.
Phil Bunyan Chair of the ASE safeguards in science committee 13 Redthorn Way Claypole, Newark, Notts