Health & Safety

health and safet 1Introduction

Misunderstandings about the application of health and safety law have, in some cases, discouraged schools and teachers from carrying out a range of learning activities both inside and outside the classroom. These misunderstandings can also be fuelled by fears of civil action or concerns about the need for detailed paperwork.

A proportionate approach to the management of health and safety risks in schools is about:

• protecting pupils and staff from real harm
• enabling innovation and learning opportunities to take place
• helping those who create the risks to manage them sensibly and responsibly

It's NOT about:

• creating a totally risk free environment
• stifling initiative and stopping learning activities where risks are managed
• generating mountains of paperwork


An important feature of the work of SSERC is the production of health and safety advice for schools and colleges who are in membership. Through our website we provide a number of publications to support this area of activity. Many of the publications can be accessed by registered members through the links on the menu to the left.


Storage and disposal of chemicals – 2,4-dintrophenyl hydrazine


In response to recent reports of issues related to the storage of 2,4-dinitrophenyl hydrazine we have produced detailed guidance for schools.  This guidance can be accessed here. 

We have received a number of calls/enquiries about methods of disposal of 2,4-dintrophenyl hydrazine and we have recently published guidance which can be accessed here.

On a broader front, there have been a few incidents in schools recently resulting from the incorrect storage/management and/or monitoring of chemicals.


We published an article about flammables and their storage in a recent issue of the SSERC Bulletin and we will be following this up in our Spring 2017 issue with a reminder that chemicals need to be stored and managed effectively; we will also detail how this can be achieved. There are good safety and economic reasons why this should happen. Poor storage conditions can cause, or increase the rate of, deterioration of the chemicals and this can lead to them becoming ineffective or in some cases more hazardous. 


In August 2012 SSERC published revised editions of two Codes of Practice – Safety in Microbiology and Materials of Living Origin. Where practical activities in microbiology or using materials of living origin fall within the relevant Code of Practice, no additional risk assessment is required. Work that falls outwith the Codes of Practice must be accompanied by a risk assessment. Please check the for any updates since the Codes of Practice were published.


The Hazardous Chemicals section of the website provides data on a range of potentially hazardous chemicals commonly encountered in the curricula run by schools and colleges in Scotland. Associated hazard information, incompatibility, handling, storage, spillage, disposal and remedial measures is provided. In the Uses & Control Measures page for each group of chemicals you will also find information on a range of typical experimental procedures involving each chemical where we outline the control measures to put in place to minimise the risks to health. We now also have an index where you can search for chemicals by every name we could think of - if there are missing entries, plese let us know.


The Physics Team has produced Ionising radiation guidelines and how these relate to the use of radioactive sources in schools and colleges. A separate guide on sources of optical radiation in school science and technology classes has been published.

Whole school guidance

SSERC has produced a number of documents relating to health and safety which relate to areas of activity which span more than one subject area. Such documentation includes:

Routine Fume Cupboard Testing - a set of guidelines which detail the importance of testing of local exhaust ventilation devices of which fume cupboards are a subset.

New and Expectant Mothers offers advice and guidance on control measures that need to be put in place to ensure the health and wellbeing of women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Use of Display Screen Equipment by Children offers advice and guidance on the risk factors associated with working with computers. Employer and Teacher Guides are available. Please note that this document is in the process of being updated.


Members - please log in to gain access to all resources. Visitors - please contact SSERC for membership & website access.