Schools have been warned of the danger of not undertaking the correct risk assessments where hazardous substances are involved, which may lead to injury compensation claims.
The advice follows an incident in which a sixth-form student was left with only two fingers after using plaster of Paris to make a cast of her own hands for a college project.
Her hand became stuck in the plaster of Paris, which rose to a high temperature due to the chemical reaction caused when the substance mixes with water – something the student was not aware of.
The chemical reaction caused such severe burns that all but two of the fingers on her right hand had to be amputated.
"It is simply not acceptable that pupils in a classroom setting are not informed and prepared for the risks involved in handling hazardous substances," commented Health and Safety Executive inspector Jo Anderson.
The incident follows news that a 14-year-old pupil in the West Midlands suffered a serious burn injury to his left hand while on work experience in a garage.