AN INVESTIGATION ON SAFETY PROCEDURE IN SCIENCE LABORATORY IN SELECTED SECONDARY SCHOOL IN ABEOKUTA, OGUN STATE
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Science can be defined as an attempt by human beings to organize their experience about nature into a meaningful system of explanation. It can also be regarded as the organization of reasonable variable sense experiences of a man about natural and artificial occurrences in his environment, it is through science that regularities of nature are predicted, described, and explained. Science cannot be said to be broad-based unless it is postulated on the important pillars of experimentation, out-door work, and above all, development of the project. Apart from creating opportunities for probing the theoretical concepts taught in the classroom, practical work also inculcates scientific skills, ethics, and the regulatory principle of science.
Science is an activity, and effective science learning is by doing. For a child to master the art of writing, for example, he must be given opportunities to write as often as possible. Similarly, science learning demands that a teacher should create varied opportunities for students to engage in “doing” activities that enable them to make sense of the world around them, make new discoveries, solve interesting problems, and develop skills.
A laboratory is an environment for the acquisition of skills and other scientific learning; it could be comprehensive where more than a trade is taught, it may be a building room or outside room designed for scientific research or for the teaching of practical science. Bajah (1975) sees a laboratory as an activity area in which role learning gives way to a combination of a complex mix of cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains in learning with the sense of sight, feeling, smelling, and doing playing dormant roles.
A pure science laboratory is classified based on the act of science to be learned. Generally, laboratories are infrastructure whose goal is to promote human learning and efficiency for a definite goal therefore an expert must oversee the construction, sitting, and equipping of these buildings to enhance safety.
Safety simple means a state of being secure, protected, uninjured, out of danger, and not involved in risk. All hazardous conditions could not be eliminated, but safe living demands the ability to function at an optimum level in the presence of hazards. The prevention of accidents in laboratories is the duty of every individual using or entering them. Clearly, it is the duty of every teacher to organize his classes in a way that reflects both his responsibility for their welfare and his commitment to teaching his pupils appropriate safety-conscious attitudes and behavior. Pupils do not have the instinctive feeling for experimental work that a teacher will have acquired as a result of many years of experience. As a result, what is common sense to the teacher may well be totally outside the range of experience of a pupil and therefore be far from obvious to him. Many students see science as a forum to seek answers to their numerous questions and seek satisfaction with their unending curiosities. But curiosity killed the cat and these students are apt to get themselves and others including the teacher into a great deal of trouble and make science not exciting but dangerous, not wonderful but dreadful if care is thrown to the wind (Aiyegbayo, 1996). One of the objectives of adequate practical training in science, even at school, is to teach the pupil how to handle safety materials that are potentially or actually dangerous. Even so, every teacher should make it his or her task to become familiar with any special instructions issued for dealing with emergencies peculiar to the school in which she or he is working. He/she should get to know the layout of the school.
The location of fire-fighting equipment and how it works ways of getting out of the building in an emergency, where telephones are sited and first aid arrangement. Mohammed (1993) states that many accidents are caused by carelessness in laboratories. It is easier sensible to develop safe work habits when conducting practicals than suffer the consequences of an accident.
Safety policy is in no way a complete and absolute statement of safety to be followed in science laboratories. Science teachers and students must not be ignorant of the use of first aid treatment which may save them from a lot of damages.
1.2 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
Safety education is the avoidance of dangerous circumstances related to an individual activity. This project makes science teachers be aware of the prevention of accidents in laboratories through effective architectural design. In addition, there is a need to make sure that laboratory attendants take cognizance of the equipment available. As a science student, one has to be familiar with the safety precautions in a science laboratory and should be able to explain some basic safety rules and necessary aids to take care of accident victims, as the teaching of science subjects, (Physics, Chemistry, and Biology) entails demonstration and guidance as a result of this, there is need for the provision of adequate safety of lives and properties within the laboratories. Also, science teachers have to be equipped with up-to-date precautionary measures against immediate hazards.
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
Every research work is stirred up as a result of the problem situation. In other words, research is a product or an off-shoot of a problem situation. This project is aimed at finding answers to the following questions:
1. Are the science laboratories in schools safe enough for the users?
2. What are the areas of neglect that are inimical to the safety of human and material resources in these laboratories?
3. Are all equipment up to the necessary standard with respect to safety and risk to health?
4. Are adequate arrangements made for storage, maintenance, cleaning, and renewal of the available equipment?
5. Have emergency procedures been formulated to cover, for example, spillage of toxic or dangerous material, fire escape of gases, etc.
6. Is there provision by regular inspection, examination, and where necessary, testing to ensure that equipment and its safety devices have not deteriorated?
1.4 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
This research work is limited to safety precaution of science laboratory in selected secondary schools in Abeokuta only.
1.5 DEFINITION OF TERMS
(i) Safety - Safety simply means a state of being secure, protected, uninjured, out of danger, and not involved in risk. Is a co-efficient of common sense, knowledge of physical, chemical, and physiological effects of substances, and knowledge of the behavior of human beings.
(ii) Precaution - Care taken before an event or accident in order to prevent it from happening or in order to cause it to happen without doing harm.
(iii) Chemical - Substance used in or obtained by chemistry.
(iv) Procedure - The order or regular way of doing things.