Eye protection in Cuba lab photos
May23

Eye protection in Cuba lab photos

In a recent cover story about chemistry research in Cuba, C&EN included several photos in which people were not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment–eye protection in particular–in labs. The photos garnered several critical comments, such as: Please, please, please wear safety glasses in the lab! This should be a minimum requirement for all photos in C&EN. No glasses – no photo. [T]here is no excuse for conducting laboratory work, or even being in a lab, without proper PPE. … I’m actually surprised to see such photos in C&E News without a suitable editorial comment. C&EN generally does require that people must wear eye protection at a minimum in photos and video. We probably refuse a few photos a month for that reason alone. We made exceptions for Cuba story photos for several reasons. One was a sheer lack of resources at the high school and university levels. It wasn’t that people were choosing not to wear eye protection, they simply didn’t have it. A second reason was that we didn’t want to misrepresent lab conditions. Cuba’s Center for Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology has better funding than the schools, but the lab culture there still didn’t involve wearing eye protection. For the purposes of this story, we thought it was important to show the lab environments as they are rather than how they ideally should be. (Would it have been journalistically ethical to ship eye protection to Cuba in order to get “better” photos?) Consequently, C&EN decided to show the labs as they were, noting the lack of safety gear explicitly in the body of the story and in a photo caption. We didn’t make the decision lightly, and we realize that some may still disagree with C&EN showing anything but best safety practice. But we also know that our readers value fact-based, accurate journalism–which for this story meant using photos that we likely would not have accepted for labs in a more industrially developed...

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Color-blindness as a lab safety concern?
Feb08

Color-blindness as a lab safety concern?

This week’s C&EN includes a Newscripts column about new eyeglasses for color-blind people that enhance color perception. I was struck by these comments by a materials science graduate student who tried the glasses: “Primary colors seemed more their color,” [Patrick] Stanley reports of his time wearing the glasses. “Labels and boxes caught my attention more—and I guess the point of a hazardous label is to catch my attention.” He also could tell the difference between red and green LEDs and felt more adept at color-matching tasks such as tracing gas lines and reading graphs. “I found myself being quicker in making color assertions,” he says. I’d never considered before whether color-blindness might be a lab safety concern. What do you think? Are there labs in which eyeglasses such as these might be helpful to ensure safety? (Combined with appropriate safety glasses or goggles, of...

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Protective suit failure lands Canadian lab worker in isolation
Nov10

Protective suit failure lands Canadian lab worker in isolation

An employee of Canada’s national animal health lab is in isolation for 21 days following possible exposure to the Ebola virus, news agencies report. The employee was working with pigs that had been invected with Ebola to test how the disease responds to treatment with immune response proteins, CBC reports. The employee was going through standard decontamination procedures before leaving the lab when he or she noticed a split in the seam of their protective suit. Ebola is spread by direct contact with bodily fluids. “There is no reason to believe the employee involved in Monday’s incident was in contact with the bodily fluids of the infected pig, according to Rebecca Gilman, spokeswoman for the Public Health Agency of Canada,” CNN reports. The incident illustrates why personal protective equipment should not be the only barrier between a lab worker–or the outside world–and possible harm. Multiple approaches are necessary so that a single weakness does not lead to illness or...

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OSHA updates eye and face protection standards
Apr06

OSHA updates eye and face protection standards

Effective April 25, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has new requirements for eye and face protection. From the agency’s press release: The rule updates references in OSHA’s Eye and Face Protection Standards to recognize the ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2010, Occupational and Educational Personal Eye and Face Protection Devices, while deleting the outdated 1986 edition of that same national consensus standard. OSHA is also retaining the 2003 and 1989 (R-1998) versions of the ANSI standard already referenced in its standard. In addition, the final rule updates the construction standard by deleting the 1968 version of the ANSI standard that was referenced and now includes the same three ANSI standards referenced above to ensure consistency among the agency’s standards. Here’s a piece from Occupational Health & Safety magazine about the development of the ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2010...

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Flame-resistant fabrics webinar
Mar08

Flame-resistant fabrics webinar

Although I normally avoid promoting particular products on the blog, this upcoming webinar sounds interesting: “Lab Coats for the 21st Century,” sponsored by Workrite. This webinar will discuss the rapidly growing trend of laboratories investing in flame-resistant (FR) lab coats. Attendees will learn about the various FR fabrics available today and the reasons why Nomex® IIIA fabric is becoming the fabric of choice. And finally, the webinar will reveal an innovative new lab coat fabric that offers FR plus chemical splash protection—the first fabric of its kind. Register here if you’d like to...

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Lesson learned: Eye protection
Jun04

Lesson learned: Eye protection

From the University of California, Berkeley, a lesson learned about wearing eye protection: A graduate student researcher was working at a laboratory bench synthesizing approximately one gram of diazonium perchlorate crystals. The student was transferring synthesized perchlorate using a metal spatula when the material exploded, sending porcelain fragments into his face. The fragments shattered the lenses of his eyeglasses and lacerated his left cornea. A researcher in an adjacent room assisted the student to the eyewash and called campus police. The student was taken to the hospital where he underwent surgery on his eye, and treatment for several facial lacerations. He was released from the hospital that same evening. Read the report for more details. (h/t Chemjobber, who also posted about this and received a rather disheartening comment from a UC Berkeley graduate...

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