Evidence suggests science teachers are avoiding experimental work with chemicals because of exaggerated fears about the risk to pupils and resulting litigation. Chemistry teaching could suffer as a result. So teachers should welcome this comprehensive manual from a respected safety organisation.
The manual, much-expanded and updated from an earlier version last reprinted in 1990, contains extensive information and guidance on the safe handling of chemicals. It has far more information, but the main difference teachers will notice is the new version's loose-leaf format. As regulations change, information can easily be revised using SSERC's updating service.
The main section consists of safety data sheets for several hundred chemicals commonly encountered in schools. For each chemical, information is provided on hazards, incompatibility, handling, storage, disposal and spillage, along with remedial measures in the case of exposure. Additional pages advise on control measures for common experiments. Several sections also give information on safe handling of chemicals. A CD-Rom version is now available.
Wilson Flood is a former science adviser for Dumfries and Galloway