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Spot the Safety Hazards Story

While preparing to review lab safety at the beginning of my chemistry course, I ran across a “Spot the Safety Hazards” story on Ms. Randall’s Science Weebly. On page 3 of this PDF, she includes a story that students must read. As they read, students must underline or highlight all of the lab safety violations that they find.

spot the safety hazards story lab safety

I ended up retyping it and using it with my chemistry students. Can your students spot the safety hazards?

Spot the Safety Hazards!

Directions: Read the following story and underline/highlight all lab safety violations.

The bell rang, students sat in their seats, and they began to write down their homework. Ryan eagerly asked Mr. Jones, “What are we doing today?” Mr. Jones impatiently said, “As always Ryan it is listed on the board under AGENDA.”  Ryan responded, “Oh yeah, there it is, we have a Chemistry lab.” 

Mr. Jones gave the class a brief overview of what they would be doing during the lab and he stressed to the class, “Please be sure to follow appropriate lab safety procedures.”  Ryan and John sprinted to a lab station, yelling, “We got this station!” Once at the station, Ryan asked John if he read the lab last night for homework to which John replied, “Nope, did you?”  Ryan responded to John’s question by saying, “Are you serious, I never read anything for this class.” They both looked at each other and decided to just start the lab. 

“Ryan, you go get the chemicals and I’ll light up the Bunsen burner,” said John. Even though all of their classmates went to the safety goggle cabinet prior to starting the lab, Ryan and John decided not to go. John said in a smug way, “Forget the goggles; we are too cool to wear those things.”  Ryan walked up to the front lab bench where the chemicals were, removed the lids, picked up the flasks, and started to smell the different chemicals. “I am just going to bring back the ones that smell the best,” said Ryan. Little did Ryan know that one of the chemicals was sulfuric acid, and after taking a deep breath, he thought that his nose hairs were on fire.  “Hey Ryan, you didn’t even put the lid back on,” yelled Mr. Jones. Ryan ignored Mr. Jones and somehow he made it back to his lab station without passing out. Upon making his way back to the lab station, Ryan saw John trying to light the Bunsen burner.  “John, John, your hair!” Ryan yelled in an excited voice. 

“That was a close one,” said John. “My mother has been telling me to get a haircut. I guess I really need one now that I just lost a big chunk of my hair.”  The two partners then proceeded with the lab. Ryan reached across the flame in order to get a beaker filled with acetic acid while John grabbed a test tube to put the chemical in. “Oops!” said Ryan, “I just spilled some of the chemicals on the tabletop. I’ll just wipe it up with my shirt sleeve.” 

“Should you tell Mr. Jones?” John asked.  “No, it isn’t a big deal, I already wiped it up,” Ryan nonchalantly said. A few seconds later, Ryan said, “Man, my arm is warm.”  In an excited voice, John said, “Oh my God, look at your shirt, there is a hole in it. That chemical you wiped up must have eaten through your shirt. How is your arm?” 

Ryan said, “It hurts a little, but I will be fine.”  “Should we tell Mr. Jones?” asked John. “No, I’ll be fine,” Ryan said confidently. 

The lab partners then poured some chemicals into a test tube to begin heating. “Ryan, do you see that crack in the test tube?” questioned John.  “Who cares,” Ryan whispered. “As long as the test tube is not leaking, it must be fine.” The boys proceeded to heat the test tube. Ryan asked, “Is anything happening?” “I don’t know, point the test tube in this direction so that I can look into the opening,” John replied.  “Maybe we should just add some of the other chemicals if nothing is happening yet,” said Ryan.  “Should we ask Mr. Jones?” wondered John. 

“No, he is annoying,” Ryan smugly said. Ryan then continued, “He will first ask us if we read all of the procedures and then he will say, ‘I put a lot of time and effort into writing these labs for you guys and the least you could do is read them. If you have read it and then have additional questions, I would be more than happy to help you, but you have to do your part first.’ I certainly don’t want to hear all of that, do you?” “Definitely not, I hate when teachers go ranting,” said John. 

The lab partners proceeded to add some random chemicals to the test tube. Shortly thereafter, the contents of the test tube began to bubble over. “Wow that was amazing!” Ryan yelled.  “Yeah, that was pretty cool, but it is everywhere,” John said in a concerned voice. 

“Good thing we have all of these papers laying around our lab station because most of the chemicals have just spilled onto them. We can just throw all of the papers into the garbage,” Ryan said confidently. 

“Hey, it got onto my planner,” John said in an annoyed voice.  “Who cares, just go to guidance and buy another one for four dollars and fifty cents. Oh, I’m sorry, I mean you can get one for four dollars and Fitty Cent. Get it, Get it!” Ryan said in a joking manner. 

The students began to clean up the spilled chemicals when John said, “This stuff smells really good, kind of like lemonade.” “Well, if it smells like lemonade, it must be lemonade, just taste it,” Ryan said in a convincing manner.  John proceeded to taste the chemical mixture by sipping what was left in the test tube.  “Oh man, the bell is going to ring soon,” Ryan said in a rushed voice.  “Just leave it, I really want to go to lunch because it is Taco Day,” John said. “Are you sure?” Ryan questioned.  “Yeah let’s just get out of here; the next class is going to be doing the lab again anyway, so they can clean it up,” John said. 

Without washing their hands, Ryan and John left the classroom and headed to lunch.