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Teaching safety in the classroom.

CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION (CTE) PROFESSIONALS OF ALL STRIPES ARE WELL AWARE OF THE NEED FOR PROPER SAFETY PRECAUTIONS DURING INSTRUCTION. After all, career skills are great, but they can only take someone so far without proper appreciation for the requirements of sale practices in the work environment. For the CTE veteran, safety in the shop or lab or on the job--is more than just a duty to protect students from harm; it's part of teaching lifelong skills that can literally protect life and limb in all occupations, from the most treacherous to the most mundane.

CTE involves teaching workplace skills, which means bringing the workplace itself into the classroom. It might be a lab, it might be a mechanical shop, it might be an office, but there's no workplace in the world that doesn't require learning forms of personal and professional safety. All children in primary school learn proper procedures, such as tire drills and elementary first aid, for eventual incidents of danger. While a certain level of import is explicit in these lessons, the implicit skills learned have heavy implications for learning parallel skills throughout life--following protocols, maintaining order and helping others. It's by drawing on these lessons and values later in life that CTE students will best react to more complicated safety standards for learning technical skills.


Indeed, while knowing the location of eyewash stations directly corresponds to similar lessons from kindergarten, it's best that students learn correct practices so that they never have to use the stations in the first place. But in the event of accidents, it's important that students know how to limit damage to their materials and themselves, so developing procedures ahead of time and creating safety checklists that include right action before, during and after any lesson or hands-on session and seeing that students understand not only the rules therein, but also why those rules are in place, are extremely important to ensure basic standards of safety.


These lessons can prevent accidents, protect equipment and keep students learning the skills necessary for career success rather than figuratively, or literally, putting out tires. These lessons also carry with them the additional skills and safety-first mindset all CTE students need as they transition into the workforce. Some skills, such as storage, organization and remediation of hazardous situations, may be the same from class to work. Nonetheless, sale students are only guaranteed to be safe workers if respect for the nature of the work and understanding of necessary procedure are inculcated by their instructors.

Keeping Up-to-Date

CTE teachers bear just as much responsibility for teaching safety skills as career skills, and the surest way to guarantee up-to-date knowledge of any occupation's requirements is for the teachers themselves to stay up on their own professional development. This may seem like a given, but new guidelines and regulations, such as from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and/or state or occupational bodies, are also being introduced while old ones are amended. Fortunately, resources abound. Every CTE teacher, from the most seasoned veteran to the greenhorn, can turn to a wealth of assistance to aid the quest for safe classrooms and safe working habits.

For More Information

* Federal government agencies--such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)--not only set the rules for workplace safety, they also promote their work through myriad public programs. Visit them online for more information.

NIOSH's Safety Checklist Program for Schools is among the best: default.html

* Safety standards that may surpass even OSHA and NIOSH are often approved by occupational bodies, but the best standards ate those certified by the International Organization for Standardization.

* CareerSafe offers programs to teach young workers how to stay safe on the job. Programs exist for students, educators, administrators and employers.

* Besides practical matters, there are rewards for safety. The ACTE/NIOSH School Lab Safety Award is just one way for the best safety-teaching CTE instructors to receive the recognition they deserve.

* Curious about how to develop good safety practices in class? There's no shortage of resources on the Internet. Although specific needs require their own sets of standards, a few samples include: classroom.pdf healthsafetyguide/A9.htm

* The Accident Fund Insurance Company of America has expanded from providing workers' compensation insurance to providing safe workplace materials for young workers through its WorkSafe Students program. worksafe_students/

Jonathan Miller is ACTE's online editor. He can be contacted at
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Author:Miller, Jonathan
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2009
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