It is vital that chemicals are safely managed at all times and that you have precautions in place to ensure that chemicals are stored at the appropriate temperatures. We were given a stark reminder of this earlier this week. More than a dozen teachers and pupils were treated by paramedics after a chemical scare at Cardinal Wiseman school in Coventry on 2nd July. Firefighters, police and ambulance crews were all rushed to the school in Potters Green, after teachers noticed fumes coming from the science block.

A number of chemicals used by pupils during lessons had overheated overnight due to the hot weather and were letting off fumes.Watch Commander Paul Dunnell, of Binley Fire Station, said: “The teachers noticed fumes in the science block and when we arrived we were given good information by the staff explaining the chemicals involved.

“The chemicals have a low boiling point and due to the high temperatures overnight they had gassed off.
“Firefighters using protective clothing and breathing apparatus removed the chemicals and made them safe. We then ventilated the school using power fans.

“Fifteen people – 12 staff and three students – received precautionary checks from paramedics.”

A letter from Cardinal Wiseman School was sent out to residents living nearby immediately after the incident which explained what happened and also thanked both the fire and ambulance crews for their swift response.
Recommendations: review COSHH assessments and make sure that precautions / controls are adhered to
ensure staff responsible for chemicals are well trained.

  • Fire Risk Assessment must take into consideration the risks of chemicals
  • Plan and prepare for emergency situations to ensure that if such an event occurred in your school that you know what to do.

For further assistance with any aspects of your organisations health and safety please contact JCH Safety LTD.