Health & Safety (Edexcel International A Level Physics)

Revision Note

Katie M

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Katie M

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Physics

Health & Safety

  • All experiments must be carried out safely to protect the scientists from injury and the equipment from damage
  • There are some common health and safety precautions in practicals
  • When working with masses, wires or springs:
    • Wear safety goggles when required (e.g., when using wires, in case it snaps)
    •  A support stand should be weighted or clamped to prevent it falling over (commonly with a G clamp)
    • Do not overload springs with masses so they stretch past their elastic limit or break when oscillating
    • Provide a soft surface, such as a cushion, underneath anything falling (such as a ball bearing when calculating g), to protect surfaces
  • When using electrical circuits:
    • Don't have liquids kept around the apparatus, as these could spill and cause a fire
    • Turn off the power supply in between readings so the components, especially thin wires, don't become too hot. This could cause a burn or affect the results of the experiment from the change in temperature affecting resistance
    • Do not exceed the voltage rating for all the appliances in the circuit
  • General lab health and safety practice includes:
    • Always keeping bags and chairs tucked away under desks to avoid someone tripping over in the classroom
    • Stand up for the duration of the experiment, in case something goes wrong with a piece of apparatus and need to react quickly
    • Don't eat and drink when conducting experiments
    • Wear comfortable clothing and a lab coat when necessary
    • Long hair to be tied back 
    • Spills can cause slips, mop this up
    • Do not leave an experiment, or piece of apparatus, unsupervised (especially Bunsen burners)
    • Let hot glass cool down, or wear gloves when handling (e.g., for investigating specific heat capacity)
    • Let a supervisor know about any spills or problems with equipment as soon as possible

Exam Tip

The common way a question on health and safety is asked in the Edexcel International exam papers is 'comment on safety' and will often be 1 mark.

In your answer, think about how the issue should be dealt with to gain the full mark. For example, it may not be enough to just state that 'wires can become too hot', but also explain how it this is dealt, with by turning off the power supply between readings to cool down. Or, there could be spills whilst using a liquid, remember to mop this up to prevent anyone getting injured or damaging equipment.

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Katie M

Author: Katie M

Katie has always been passionate about the sciences, and completed a degree in Astrophysics at Sheffield University. She decided that she wanted to inspire other young people, so moved to Bristol to complete a PGCE in Secondary Science. She particularly loves creating fun and absorbing materials to help students achieve their exam potential.

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