School operations

Safety — Visual and Performing Arts

3. Controlling identified hazards

The principal and/or their delegate must ensure that relevant employees and students are safe when using different venues and materials for visual and/or performing arts education including:

  • where relevant, that protective clothing is worn and adequate washing facilities are provided
  • art and craft rooms, ovens and kilns are well ventilated and kept clean
  • materials which are potentially damaging to health, mainly through inhalation and also through skin absorption are managed accordingly, for example, fluorocarbons, whose use is potentially dangerous, particularly for primary school students who suffer from asthma and/or bronchitis.

Note: Students who are small in stature and body size are more susceptible to hazards and should be supervised accordingly.

3.1 Control measures

The principal and/or their delegate in consultation with the health and safety representative (HSR) and employees are to ensure suitable controls, as outlined in the OHS Risk Management Procedure are selected and implemented where plant and equipment and chemical risks are identified.

The principal and/or their delegate must ensure that safety considerations are taken into account in the following.

3.1.1 Performing art room(s) controls

Dance studio(s):

  • are well ventilated
  • lighting is maintained
  • have sprung wooden floor, where possible
  • correct footwear is worn
  • Ausdance VictoriaExternal Link advice is taken into consideration for informal kit of safe practice.

Drama room(s):

  • area is well ventilated
  • lighting is maintained
  • use of safety chains on hung lamps
  • possible allergies students might experience using theatre make-up.

Music room(s):

  • area is well ventilated
  • lighting is maintained
  • storage areas do not pose a manual handling or trip hazard
  • ensure students do not share mouth pieces.

3.1.2 Visual art room(s) controls

Pottery ceramics
  • Materials:
    • Glazes, frits and pigments containing lead, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, mercury and manganese are not to be used in schools.
    • Neither teachers nor students should handle clay in dry form. However, if this is unavoidable, wear dust masks conforming to AS 1716.
  • Equipment:
    The kiln and installation should meet statutory requirements for safety. The kiln should be fitted with a maximum temperature control regulator (such as an electronic mini temperature or a kiln setter device).
    Electric kilns should be fitted with:
    • a door-activated microswitch to turn the elements off when the kiln is opened
    • adequate mechanical ventilation to the outside atmosphere
    • certain dangers can exist with the installation and operation of a pottery kiln and whole fuel kilns (gas, oil or wood fired) should only be used by thoroughly trained experts
    • oil-fired kilns, if used, should have a fuel/flame control that stops all fuel flow if the burner is extinguished
    • solid-fuel kilns should not be installed inside a building.
Pencils and paints — lead content
  • Pencils, toys, finger colours, show card colours, pastels, crayons, poster paints and coloured chalk used in schools should have a minimum total lead content of 0.01% or less.
  • Any coating material(s) should contain a minimum of 0.25% or less of lead or compounds of lead.
Organic solvents

Organic solvents are often components of inks, glues and paints and should be used with care ensuring that:

  • young students use only water-based paints, markers and glues
  • older students use organic solvent-based materials only where there is good ventilation.

Epoxy glues are:

  • not permitted for use by primary students
  • allowed in secondary colleges if gloves are worn and if used in fume cupboards or suitably ventilated areas.

Care should also be taken when using PVA glue.


Plastics are liable to give off hazardous fumes when heated.

  • Do not cut foam plastic with a hot wire.
  • Students should only use polyurethane under close supervision.
Scrap materials

Some scrap materials used in art/craft work may present health hazards. Ensure that:

  • all materials are clean
  • fabric brought by students is laundered before use
  • materials exposed to infection or contamination (including toilet roll tubes) are not used.
Lead lighting
  • Lead came is a soft metal used to join stained glass and in solder and is made predominantly from lead.
  • During the soldering process lead fumes and dust are produced. While air sampling has shown that lead concentrations in air from the soldering process are below occupational exposure standards, there may be high lead concentrations in work area dusts and the ingestion of lead could occur as a result of poor hygiene such as not washing hands before eating.
  • A wide variety of chemicals are used in black and white photographic processing.
  • Photographic darkrooms must be adequately ventilated, and chemicals stored and labelled correctly.
Chapter 3 of the Safety — Visual and Performing Arts Procedure on controlling identified hazards in performing art rooms and visual art rooms

Reviewed 18 May 2022

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