A number of recent cases have highlighted the importance of safeguarding hazardous areas in educational buildings at all stages in the academic ladder.

In one incident, a chemistry laboratory technician at Bristol Cathedral Choir School was preparing a firework for a demonstration, when the explosive ignited, leading to the loss of three fingertips and a perforated bowel.

This corresponds closely with another incident, this time at Cranfield University, where a man was dismantling a bomblet for use in a demonstration, when it exploded.

Again the man suffered hand damage – this time to his nerves – and a laceration to his colon which ultimately had to be removed.

Both cases highlight the risks of working with combustible materials in educational departments where such work is routine, creating a known hazardous area in which extra precautions should be taken to prevent sources of ignition.

HSE inspector Evan Bale commented after the Cranfield case: “Employers need to ensure all activities, especially those that are novel or only undertaken infrequently, have been properly assessed as to the associated hazards and risks, and that safe systems of work are in place to effectively control those risks.”