Safety Eyewear in the Science Classroom
If you are a high school science teacher, there is a pretty good chance you have a whole semester full of engaging material coming up. For many science instructors, this material includes hands-on experiments that are much appreciated by most students.
However, while hands-on work definitely makes science lessons more interesting, it can also make them a bit more dangerous if the proper precautions are not taken. For this reason, it is highly important that you, the instructor of the class, take special care to protect your students and yourself.
As a science professional, you probably think you have a pretty good idea of what protective equipment is appropriate in the classroom. That said, what the various safety agencies consider proper protection can change over time. If you have been teaching for very long, there is a chance your information is old or you have forgotten certain important bits and pieces. Therefore, it is a good idea to get into the habit of brushing up on safety information at the beginning of each and every semester.
This is where we step in. While we won’t claim to be experts on all matters of science student safety, we certainly do know our stuff when it comes to eye safety. In this article, we will share this information with you and help you prepare to protect the vision of your students in the spring semester.
So, what do you need to know about protecting the eyes of your science students? Here are our top tips.
In general, safety eyewear is a good idea anytime the students will be working with items that may splash, become projectiles, or create floating particles. By keeping this in mind, you will likely find that you can use common sense when it comes to having your students don their safety goggles. That said, there are some situations that may leave you wondering. In these cases, it is always best to play it safe and bring out the eyewear.
Here is a more specific—but not exhaustive—list of situations that call for safety eyewear in the classroom:
- Experimenting with chemicals or potentially harmful biological materials.
- Working with materials that are under stress, force, or pressure.
- Doing experiments that create (or could create) projectiles, explosions, or collisions.
- Working with lever systems.
- Taking part in activities that may create or stir up dust and/or fumes.
- Using heat sources such as hot plates.
- Working with specimens, alive or preserved.
Selecting Your Eyewear
Now that you know when your students should be protecting their eyes, it is time to decide what kind of eyewear you should purchase. Because they offer more thorough protection and make proper usage a bit easier, goggles are a better option than glasses in these situations:
- For experiments that involve larger solid items that pose a hazard through projectiles or collision, Z87+ D3 safety glasses with side shields are a perfectly fine choice.
- For the kinds of activities that include chemicals, fumes, dust, particles, and other smaller hazards, you will want to invest in Z87+ D3 safety glasses that are indirectly vented. These goggles should fit snugly and provide full coverage, with the soft flanges extending around the eyes. The vents should include small hoods in order to prevent anything from entering the protective eyewear.
Instructing Students on Proper Usage
Keeping your students safe requires you to provide adequate eye protection, of course, but it also requires that you teach your students the importance of eye safety and the dangers of neglecting to wear their goggles. Be sure to show the young scientists how to wear their goggles in order to ensure they work properly, then watch for (and correct) any improper usage throughout each and every class period.
A Word on Laser Safety
While the majority of laser beams used in a high school classroom are relatively safe, there may be occasions when you or your students will use a higher-class laser. If you find that an activity you will be doing requires you to use a class 2M or 3R laser, laser-specific safety eyewear is a must-have.
When purchasing laser safety glasses for your classes, be sure they meet the ANSI Z80.1, Z136.1, and Z136.3 standards. Glasses that meet these standards offer the very best protection possible, keeping the vision of your students safe.
Maintaining Your Classroom Eyewear
All those safety goggles will need some maintenance. This is especially true if you teach a large number of students. Because most teachers are incredibly busy people, we highly recommend assigning students to do eyewear maintenance tasks and keep your goggles in tip-top shape.
The maintenance tasks these students will need to do include:
- Spraying the goggles with a special lens cleaning spray.
- Wiping each lens with a soft, microfiber cloth.
- Storing every pair of goggles in an individual hard case to prevent scratching and breakage.
When to Replace Your Eyewear
With proper cleaning and maintenance, your classroom set of safety goggles should last for many years. However, you will eventually need to replace your eyewear.
Here are some signs you should replace your goggles soon:
- Scratches on goggle lenses.
- Loose, stretched-out bands.
- Ill-fitting flanges on chemical safety goggles.
If you notice these things beginning to happen, you can bet it’ll be time to replace the whole set of goggles soon enough.
By following the simple tips listed here, you are sure to have a great, eye injury-free second half of the school year. So what are you waiting for? Order your new goggles today and have them ready in time for your first big experiment.
Contact us for help ordering the perfect eyewear for your classroom.