According to AS/NSZ 2243.1:2005, Safety in laboratories, Part 1: Planning and operational aspects it is a mandatory requirement that food and drink for human consumption shall not be handled, stored, prepared or consumed in a laboratory or preparation area. In addition fridges, freezers, ovens and microwave ovens that are used in laboratories or are used to store laboratory materials are prohibited from being used for food and drink for human consumption. It is recommended that these should be labelled accordingly (S4.1)
Safety must be a priority in the science area. Laboratory surfaces, equipment and glassware can all be a source of contamination from chemical and/or biological material from previous classes. Safe work practices adopted in science should include no eating or drinking in the Laboratory.
The best basis for planning safety in the laboratory is to consider in advance the consequences of every action. Routine safety procedures and behavioural management processes ensure safe work habits and practices for staff and students. Safe conduct in the laboratory applies to everyone in the laboratory.
Some suggestions are:
- Never adopt a casual attitude in the laboratory and always be conscious of potential hazards.
- Discuss the implementation of “no food in labs” at a science faculty meeting. It should be part of the safety policy for science
- Make signs for the fridges, freezers, ovens and microwave ovens that are used in laboratories or are used to store laboratory materials stating that they are “not to be used for storing food and drink for human consumption”
- Make signs for the laboratories stating that “food and drink for human consumption must not be handled, stored, prepared or consumed in a laboratory”
- Make alternative arrangements for science activities where preparation and consumption of food is to take place, either by booking the use of the school kitchen or home economics room, using an alternative classroom or other facility such as an outside shade shelter. Fun activities such as making sherbet, bakers toast and ice-cream are the most common, as they are often used to demonstrate acids and bases and physical or chemical changes, as part of the Australian Curriculum: Science.
Have fun but stay safe in science!