Teaching with Technology: Arts

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Purpose of this policy

To ensure teaching environments and equipment are safe for use by staff and students.


Schools must ensure that students are safe when using different venues and materials for arts education including ensuring:

  • 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 – e.g. 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.

Safety considerations

Performing arts

Subject Safety considerations


Dance studios

  • need to be well ventilated
  • have a sprung wooden floor; where this is possible.

Correct footwear should be worn at all times.

Note: Ausdance Victoria provides advice to teachers in an information kit on safe practices in the dance classroom.


Consideration needs to be given to the:

  • ventilation of drama rooms
  • use of safety chains on hung lamps
  • possible allergies students might experience using theatre make-up.

Visual arts

The visual arts are art forms that create works which are primarily visual in nature, such as ceramics, drawing, painting, sculpture, architecture, printmaking, modern visual arts (photography, video, and filmmaking), design and crafts.

Materials Safety Considerations

Pottery ceramics


Glazes, frits and pigments containing lead, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, mercury and manganese are not 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.


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) and

  • 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 per cent or less.
  • Any coating material(s) should contain a minimum of 0.25 per cent 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 ensuring 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 is present in the came used to join stained glass and in solder.

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.


  • Photographic darkrooms must be adequately ventilated and chemicals stored and labelled correctly.

See: School Darkrooms: Planning for Safety, Comfort and Efficiency that can be obtained from the OHS Advisory Service on 1300 074 715 or email safety@edumail.vic.gov.au.

Department resources

For more safety information see: