Occupational health and safety


Making Sherbet

Making Sherbet: Can you tell me if any safety precautions are required for the sherbet activity, which allows students to create an acid–base reaction in their mouth? Is the recipe below okay to use for this activity?

Making Sherbet:


  • 3 tablespoons Citric Acid
  • 1 tablespoon Bicarbonate Soda
  • 7 tablespoons Icing Sugar

You will need a very dry sieve, tablespoon, bowl and airtight storage container


Mercury Spills

Mercury Spills: We have a small amount of mercury in a thick-walled test tube, which only comes out once a year and is handled by the teacher. I do not have a spill kit for this. I was wondering where do I buy one, or can I make one up? Also, what would be the procedure in the event of a mercury spill. I know evacuation would be a must, but that is all I know. I have also been thinking about placing this glass test tube in an appropriate plastic bottle to avoid a spill.

Any recommendations would be appreciated.

Making Nylon

Making Nylon: It has now been 14 years since I was in a high school classroom, but in those ‘good old days’ we could do an experiment to make nylon 6,6. I am writing some tasks at the moment but don’t want to include this in my tasks if OH&S regulations now means this can no longer be done by students. So, can you let me know if it is still an experiment that is acceptable.

photocopier / printer stored outside chemical store room

Photocopier / printer stored outside chemical store room: Hi I have just come back off holidays to find a large photocopying machine placed opposite the door to my Chemical Store room—within a metre. This photocopier / printer is for all staff to use. Are there any regulations stating this is not permitted? I dont feel comfortable having the machine in its present position, but I have been told there is nothing to worry about.

Gallium Metal

Gallium Metal: Hi, I was wondering what your thoughts were on the use of gallium in schools (Years 7–12) for the purpose of demonstrating the melting point of metals and possibly other experiments. Is it considered safe for students to handle assuming they're wearing gloves?


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