Reflecting on safety in the Humanities

When have safety issues arisen in a Humanities class?
Two categories of safety concerns surround safety apprehensions within the humanities, those involved within the classroom and those of out of class experiences. Classroom concerns are those that may cause immediate harm such as electrical faults, computer issues, online harassment/ bullying and structural hazards. Field trips are of a different matter, hazards such as lost students, environmental hazards, animal hazards and transport matters.

Regarding classroom safety, identifying risks before they occur is paramount for minimising issues before they become a major hazard or a student is harmed. The Queensland Government has compiled a range of safety hazards that may be found within classrooms. These safety concerns include:

  • Built environments; concerns with buildings, hazards such as structural damage and asbestos as examples
  • Driver and vehicle safety; mainly concerned in regards to out of classroom experiences that require transportation
  • Electrical; electrical hazards include anything that uses electricity, hazards may include but not limited too; laptops, damaged power outlets, frayed cords and other damaged equipment.
  • First aid; a first aid kit should always be readily available when required, injuries such as cuts, bruises, sprains and other minor injuries that occur in the classroom.
    (“Hazards and Risks”, 2016)

As an example of an in class safety hazard, visualize the recreation of smaller scaled flood of a small town for the students to physically visual the impact on residents, houses, cars and so on. During this process, water is spilled onto the vinyl flooring creating a slipping hazard. The Teacher does not notice the spill and so a student has since slipped and fallen.

The appropriate response would be to check if the student is injured and what types of injuries occurred, if any. If the injury is minor such as bruise or a sprain wrist, the student should be sent to the first aid room accompanied by another student. However, in the event of a concussion, fracture or broken bone the student should not be moved unless necessary (such as the recovery position if needed). The office should be notified and communicated to about the injury sustained, which should result in an ambulance being called.

In terms of preventative measures, the Teacher should maintain a constant alertness to any spills or other hazards that may occur during the lesson. When the spill is noticed immediately inform the students to stay away from the area and immediately clean the spill up whilst placing a slip hazard sign. Proper containers should be used that minimise the likelihood of spills, such as larger containers to catch any leaks or paying careful attention to the amount of water being used as examples (SPILLS & SPILL KITS, n.d.).

Changing our attention towards an out of class experience, envision a year class in on an excursion in the mangroves learning about the ecosystems, flora and fauna that reside there. The following day some students arrive to school with notes from parents writing how their child has sunburns from the trip.

On the day of the trip students were not required to wear their school uniforms but had to wear appropriate clothing for walking through board walked mangroves, mangrove beaches and general outdoor walking. Student were also supplied with sunscreen and were allowed to bring their own. Students applied sunscreen on arrival, approximately 10am, and were instructed to reapply after lunch, around 1pm. However not all students followed these instructions as is apparent from responses from parents. It must be noted that minimal shade was available during the lunch break

In response to the notes from the parents, the Teacher called the parents of the students and discussed the steps taken for sun safety. These conversations included the appropriate clothing, as not all students wore the clothing that was deemed compulsory and how some students failed to reapply sunscreen.

In regards to strategies to address the situation for preventative purposes, the Teacher should have taken the appropriate steps and guidelines from the school and Education Queensland (“Sun safety”, 2016). Examples of proper steps that should have been taken include:

  • Ensure all students are dressed appropriately for the excursion prior to leaving on the excursion.
  • Ensure all students apply and reapply sunscreen every two hours (“Sunscreen – SunSmart”, n.d.)
  • Ensure students are minimised to the midday sun between 12pm and 1pm

References:

Hazards and Risks. (2016). Education.qld.gov.au. Retrieved 30 August 2016, from http://education.qld.gov.au/health/safety/hazards.html
SPILLS & SPILL KITS (1st ed., p. 2). Retrieved from http://www.pembinatrails.ca/wsh/science%20teachers/7.0%20Chemical%20Spill%20clean%20up%20procedures.pdf
Sun safety. (2016). Education.qld.gov.au. Retrieved 30 August 2016, from http://education.qld.gov.au/schools/healthy/wellbeing-guidelines/sun-safety.html
Sunscreen – SunSmart. Sunscreen – SunSmart. Retrieved 30 August 2016, from http://www.sunsmart.com.au/uv-sun-protection/slop-on-sunscreen

 

 

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