Focus on this key skill for working safely in the chemistry laboratory
This resource accompanies the article How to teach risk assessment, part of the Teaching science skills series from Education in Chemistry.
- Recognising hazards and evaluating risks in practical work
- Identifying appropriate control measures to keep yourself and others safe
Making a soluble salt is a practical experiment included in all 14–16 curriculums and this experiment provides a natural opportunity for learners to look at risk assessment in more detail. Although it may seem straightforward, every year a high number of incidents and accidents stemming from this experiment are reported.
By asking your learners to complete a risk assessment for this practical, you will help them develop knowledge and skills in risk assessment for safer working in the lab and to take out into the real world.
Two printable student risk assessment worksheets have been provided. One has been partially completed with the hazards listed, to offer guidance for learners to work from. The second is a blank template offering more challenge or, as a follow-up task, for use with an alternative salt or an alternative experiment.
How to use the resource
Our core practical video Preparing a soluble salt shows a method for making salt that differs from the ‘standard’ approach to make it safer. You could ask your learners to watch the video, looking out for and noting down anything to do with health and safety before asking them to complete the task.
This worksheet could be completed as a homework activity before or after they have carried out the practical experiment. It would also work as an activity in class, with learners working together in groups, or run as a whole class discussion.
Provide each learner or group with the partially completed or blank template.
The CLEAPSS student safety sheets are accessible to all and contain all the information required to complete the risk assessment.
Prior to the lesson you may wish to print out the relevant sheets:
• SSS022 Sulfuric acid
• SSS040 Copper and its compounds
For further information on risk assessment, please see the CLEAPPS student risk assessment document.
A completed example answer is provided in the teacher notes.
- Show learners how important understanding and mitigating risk is in the real world by sharing job profiles from Nicholas, a toxicologist and Tim, a computational toxicologist.
- Stay on top of your own risk assessments by risk assessing your practicals.
- Give learners more opportunities to practice assessing risk by asking them to develop and plan their own investigation.
- Find more core pactical videos for 14–16 learners.