A Teacher's Guide to Classroom Safety

Teachers are responsible for educating students and for helping keep them safe. Cleaning supplies, appliances, and even classroom equipment can present potential safety risks. By keeping these exposures in mind, your staff can better protect students and themselves from injury.       
                                                                    
Cleaners and Chemicals

While household cleaners are relatively nonhazardous, take extra caution in the classroom, especially around young students. Use only school-provided cleaners with labeling that documents chemical hazards, proper handling and storage procedures, and emergency measures in case of an accident. 

Electrical Safety and Extension Cords

Many fires result from the improper use of extension cords. Follow these guidelines to help ensure proper use: 

  • Limit the use of extension cords to immediate needs such as powering a projector, and do not use them as a long-term substitute for adequate outlets. Remove and store cords after use.
  • Use only commercial-grade extension cords provided by building services. Two-wire, light-duty cords found in most homes are not appropriate for school use.
  • Never run extension cords over ceiling grids or under rugs, and do not hang cords from nails or staples.
  • Avoid using multi-tap outlets and excessive power strips that can overload a circuit.
  • Inspect cord insulation and prongs prior to use and before placing in storage.
  • Replace damaged cords. 

Classroom Equipment and Supplies

Common items such as scissors, letter openers, and paperweights can be dangerous if used incorrectly — whether during playful “roughhousing” or an argument. Store these items out of sight when not in use. Science and vocational teachers should exercise extra caution with sharp instruments and should make sure students return all equipment at the end of class.    

Appliances

Electrical appliances may present fire and burn risks when used improperly. Limit the use of personal appliances, such as coffeemakers and microwave ovens, to teacher lounge areas or areas where student access can be controlled. Take particular care with the placement of portable heaters to ensure that no flammable materials are nearby. 

Classroom Decorations

Decorations enliven a classroom and often serve instructional purposes, but they can also lead to slips and falls and injury when hung improperly. Follow these guidelines for safe use: 

  • Limit paper decorations and student artwork to 20 percent or less of the wall area, and never cover exit signs or exit doorways.
  • Use flame-retardant decorations whenever possible.
  • Do not suspend decorations or plants from the ceiling or the ceiling tile grid.
  • Mount decorations and plants within reach of the floor for easy and safe access.
  • Never hang anything from fire sprinkler heads. 

Teacher Personal Safety

Locking classroom doors during class and when working alone can improve safety for students and teachers. In addition, keep classroom door windows uncovered so that activity can be easily observed from the hallway.

Taking these proactive measures to maintain classroom safety can help keep the focus on the most important part of school — learning.

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The illustrations, instructions, and principles in this material are general in scope and, to the best of our knowledge, current at the time of publication. No attempt has been made to interpret any referenced codes, standards, or regulations nor to identify all potential risks or requirements.