This study investigate the nature of accidents and safety practices in secondary school laboratory in Awka Education zone. Four research questions guided the study and related literature was reviewed which exposed the need for the study.

The adopted descriptive research design.A simple random sampling technique was used to select the sample size.The data collected was analysed using 4 point Likert scale system,structured questionnaire containing 29 items in B1 to B4 and validated by experts in the field for data collections.Mean and stardard deviation were used to analyse the data to answer the research questions and determined homogeneity of the respondents ratings. The findings of the study showed that the nature of laboratory accident in secondary schools are in different forms ranging from accident caused by heat,cut caused by sharp laboratory objects,bruise caused by laboratory equipment etc.The findings further indicated that the provision and availability of safety materials for laboratory use in secondary schools in Awka Education Zone are very low and not readily available for the students to use during laboratory practicals.Hence,the study recommends that precautionary safety instructions should be given to secondary school students before embarking on any laboratory practicals,safety materials such as hand gloves,eye goggles and other laboratory safety materials be provided for secondary school students to ensure adequate laboratory safety,while government should always endeavour to provide these safety materials and ensure they are properly used.





Background to the study

Science is a systematic enterprise which builds and organizes knowledge in a form of testable explanation and predictions about nature (Editorial Staff  2008).  Miriam Webster dictionary defined science as the knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation while According to business defined science as the body of knowledge comprising of measurable or variable facts acquired through application of the scientific method and generalized into scientific laws or principles.

Practical is defined as an examination or lesson in which theories and procedures learned are applied to the actual making or doing of something (stock, 2009).

Accident is defined as an undesirable or unfortunate happening that occurs unintentionally and usually results in harm, injury, damage, or loss; casualty; mishap( Modesty 2013).

In teaching of Science the practical work is of great importance as it develops the confidence of doing something by one’s own self. Practical work not only enhances the knowledge about a particular phenomenon but also explains the underlying ideas about it (Cooper &stock, 2009). Practical’shave an essential place in science, and safe practical practices are the most basic and fundamental parts of laboratory experiments.  According to World Health Organization (2009) safety is the prevention of the adverse effects, both short- and long-term, to humans and the environment from the production, storage, transportation, use and disposal of chemicals. There are four main ways that is routes of exposure, for chemical substances to enter the human body: Inhalation, Absorption, Ingestion (eating, swallowing)etc.

Handling chemical substances in the laboratory without proper precautions exposes the students, teachers and other allied staff to the risk of absorbing harmful amounts of chemicals. It is obligatory for the secondary school administration to provide the guidelines to the respective teachers and lab attendants about the nature, properties, classification labelling, transport and storage of chemicals so that they could disseminate the information to the students before the performance of practical task for the safe use of chemicals and to minimize the risk of chemical injuries. Governments from around the world have agreed that addressing chemical threats to  secondary school student’s health should be an integral component of every country’s public health and environmental agenda.Several studies are evident about the importance of safety measures in labs. According to the survey of Gerlovich, Whitesett, Lee &Parsa, (2001) mostly the accidents and injuries in the laboratory are caused by the broken glassware and chemical exposure. The teachers who have class sizes greater than 24 students are at greater risk of being injured (Fuller, Picucci& Collins, 2001). Overcrowding in Science Classrooms and laboratories, where equipment and chemicals are used, should be a safety concern for every teacher and student (TEA & DANA Center, 2000). In academic institutions there is no inventory of hazardous chemicals and no appropriate disposal of these so-called chemicals. There is no protocols for the safe disposal of chemicals which are being used by the  secondary students during their practical work . Moreover there is no training programmes and no curriculum development regarding these chemicals which impart health impacts if they are not used properly in the laboratory. This necessitated the study of the nature of accident and safety practices in secondary school laboratory in Awka education zone.

Statement of the Problem

Science courses such physics, chemistry and biology requires laboratory practical in other to effectively acquaint secondary school students with the basic fundamental knowledge of sciences.   In the course of engaging the students in practical work in the laboratory, problems such as laboratory accidents are bound to occur due to poor safety measure in the laboratory. According to Hayble(2010),exposure to laboratory hazards  endangers the lives of  secondary school students and  for such it is vital that laboratory safety  be ensuredduring practical work.Therefore, when planning lesson for science laboratory work, teachers should take note of every possible accident which could occur in a giving situation andappropriate action  be taken to avoid any unfortunate event.  Problem such as accident due chemical spilling on student as result of mishandling, in appropriate adherence to laboratory safety instructions, are some of the problem noticed in laboratory practical. Other problems such as  burns resulting from mishandling of  hot laboratory equipment like  hot plate, concentrated  chemicals such as hydrochloric acids, and teteroxosulphate (vi) acid accident are also some other major problem experienced in laboratories which can lead to serious laboratory accidents.All this are major problem which their nature and a time effective safety   measures are not well known by most laboratory attendance and teachers. It is against this backdrop as major problem noticed in most secondary school that this study sought to investigate the nature of accident and safety practices in secondary school laboratory in Awka education zone.


Purpose of the study

The  main purpose of this study is to investigate the nature of  accident and safety practices in secondary school laboratory. Specific purpose is to investigate

  1. The Nature of laboratory accidents in Secondary schools.
  2. The possible causes of the laboratory accidents in secondary schools in Awka educationzone.
  3. The possible safety measures against laboratory accident in secondary schools
  4. The extent of the availability of  laboratory safety materials for laboratory work in  secondary schools in Awka education zone.

Significance of the study

The study is of benefit to secondary school teachers, administrators in secondary schools, government and to fellow researchers.Secondary school teachers will benefit from the study as it will highlight the various natures of laboratory accidents, possible safety measures against the accident, it causes, and the safety measures materials needed  during laboratory  practical work.

School administrators and the government will also benefit from the study as the study will help them see the need to provide the needed safety material for laboratory practicals in other to ensure effective prevention of laboratory accident.

Fellow researcher will benefit from the study as the study will serve as a source of  reference material for  their studies on related topic.

Scope of the Study

The scope of the study  covers  a study of the nature of accidents and safety practices in secondary  laboratory. The scope also covers only   secondary schools in Awka Anambra state.

Research Question

The following research questions guided the study:

  1. What are the naturesof laboratory accidents in Secondary schools?
  2. What are the possible causes of the laboratory accidents in secondary schools?
  3. What are the possible safety measures against laboratory accident in secondary schools?
  4. What are theextent of the availability of  laboratory safety materials for laboratory work in  secondary schools in Awka education zone?