As the school year gets underway for teachers and students, now is a great time to discuss several ways to prepare for a safer school year. Here are five helpful tips to keep the classroom a safe place for staff and students.
Check for hazards daily. It is a great idea to check the classroom daily for potential hazards. Is the room organized? Are hanging decorations secured safely? Are there any broken chairs or desks? If there are issues you can safely correct on your own, go for it. Otherwise, report hazards immediately.
Another helpful tip is to keep a safety evacuation plan in a visible location near the door. This ensures that anyone in your workspace has access to evacuation routes in the event of an emergency.
Keep an eye on the floor. Slips, trips, and falls are one of the most common workplace injuries, but they can be easily avoided if you keep your eyes peeled and act quickly if you see something unsafe. If you have rugs or carpet squares in your classroom, don’t hesitate to correct this trip hazard if you see them bunched up. Do not leave unattended drawers or cabinet doors open, and make sure chairs are pushed in and underneath desks to keep aisle ways clear. If a spill occurs, clean or report the situation immediately.
Beware of electrical safety. Outlets, power strips and extension cords are another source of safety concerns in schools. Make sure any cords plugged into outlets are pushed in firmly and not loose. Cords should be tucked away to prevent trips; however, do not fasten cords with staples, hang from nails, suspend overhead, or cover with rugs. If you see a cord with an exposed or frayed wire, unplug it immediately as this may lead to an electrical fire.
It’s also important to avoid overloading the electrical circuit. Do not plug two extension cords or two surge protectors together. If a surge protector or breaker trips and requires a reset, the outlet is overloaded.
Keep hazardous materials out of reach. Hazardous materials such as cleaning supplies and chemicals used in classroom instruction pose a risk to employees and students if not properly labeled and securely stored. Always wear gloves when working with these potentially dangerous materials. In the event of a spill, don’t hesitate to notify a qualified professional who can clean the area properly and thoroughly. It is also a good idea to sanitize work stations in rooms that commonly use hazardous materials (such as science labs) at the beginning and end of each day to ensure that there are no residual elements of the materials present (and as an added benefit, sanitizing work stations regularly will also help prevent the spreading of illness).
Maintain good safety habits. Always use the right equipment for the job when working throughout the day. If you are putting up decorations or accessing materials on shelves that are out of reach, use a ladder and follow safety guidelines. Never stand on chairs, stools, or desks. Always practice safe lifting when setting up or rearranging your classroom, and ask for help when moving items that are heavy, oversized or oddly shaped.
Maintaining a lifestyle with good safety habits can help prevent injuries in the work place, and a little preparation can make a world of difference.