My colleague and co-blogger, Jeff, is out this week and asked me to post this for him.
One of the most time-consuming elements of preparing an article for publication is finding good photos. And when you get one that works, it is hard to lose it.
Last week, I lined up a lab photo to go with an article on a Department of Energy research grant program. It hadn’t been easy. The DOE program funds startup research and it is hard to take a picture of something that barely exists.
But I got a good one—two researchers, a student and faculty member, intently overlooking what appeared to be a small reactor vessel. Absent from the photo was any form of eye protection.
I tried to sneak it through the C&ENews editor. For a wild moment, I even thought about photo-shopping glasses onto their faces. But the magazine has become increasing vigilant about checking lab photos for eye protection. And that is that.
I contacted the university lab where the photo was taken and was told:
We have lab safety guidelines which are site-specific in our labs. In the area where this photo was taken, both (the subjects) were following the particular safety guidelines for that area of that lab.
That view just sets many of our readers on fire. I have been told that “Everyone should put the glasses on the minute they enter a lab, no matter what they are doing.” I have gotten phone calls and seen more than a few letters to the editor saying the same thing. [Jyllian notes: See this week's letters to the editor for a reader's concern about photos of researchers not wearing gloves.] And I have written stories of lab techs being injured during explosion while they were in the lab changing from protective clothing to street clothes.
But I wonder if the safety glasses avoidance issue is so big and widespread it demands a universal, absolute dictum? Are there places in a lab where safety glasses are just plain unnecessary and such a pain that we’d do well to just leave them off?