Hardenhuish School headteacher pays tribute to quick-thinking staff

Hardenhuish School headteacher Jan Hatherell said staff acted quickly to minimise the student's injuries

Hardenhuish School headteacher Jan Hatherell said staff acted quickly to minimise the student's injuries

First published in Chippenham by , Devizes area senior reporter

Safety inspectors are examining a school fume cupboard after an A-level student suffered burns and cuts when a glass bottle exploded in the chemistry laboratory.

The 18-year-old student at Hardenhuish School in Chippenham had finished an experiment involving concentrated nitric acid and was disposing of the waste into a bottle in a fume cupboard when the explosion happened.

He was showered with glass and staff rushed to his aid and hosed him down with water.

The student was wearing a protective lab coat, goggles and gloves and at the time of the incident a lab technician was in the room.

The incident happened shortly before the lunch break on Tuesday.

Great Western Ambulance Service were called at 12.27pm and a paramedic arrived seven minutes later backed up by an ambulance.

The Wiltshire Air Ambulance also attended as it was thought the boy’s injuries might require urgent treatment but after being assessed he was taken by road ambulance to the Great Western Hospital, Swindon, suffering cuts and minor burns to his face and hand.

He was discharged later the same day.

Headteacher Jan Hatherell said: "The student had carried out the initial part of his practical work perfectly safely by neutralising the acid with sodium carbonate. He had carried out all the risk assessments.

"It was when he was clearing up afterwards that the incident occurred. He hadn’t completely neutralised the acid and there was a vapour explosion which broke the bottle.

"There is no doubt the emergency first aid that the teachers undertook was absolutely vital. They were amazing.

"They whipped off his lab coat, gloves and goggles and hosed him off to make sure any remnants of the chemicals were removed from him."

The science block remained closed today while Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors investigated.

Mrs Hatherell said they were examining the fume cupboards as the glass sides of the one the student was using broke when the explosion happened.

She said: “The fume cupboards were bought by us in good faith and were tested at half term.

"The Health and Safety Executive are investigating whether they are fit for purpose. The sides broke and they are thinking perhaps these fume cupboards need a new design.”

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