• Question: Do you have to take safety precautions when conduction research

    Asked by kyak499bag on 5 Feb 2024. This question was also asked by sere499bag, paca1why.
    • Photo: Rachel Edwards

      Rachel Edwards answered on 5 Feb 2024:

      Yes! When we’re starting a new experiment we start by doing a risk assessment – looking at how to do it safely, and what we should do if things go wrong. That will always state if there are things we need to do in a particular way to make sure they’re safe. For example, in one of my labs we have lots of permanent magnets. We have rules about not bringing tools too close to them as they can stick to the magnets, and making sure to keep the magnets far enough apart so they don’t stick together. We have safety boots for if we’re moving heavy things, and have to take training in lifting things safely. In my other lab we do experiments using lasers, so we have to be extra safe there.

    • Photo: Sharron Kenny

      Sharron Kenny answered on 5 Feb 2024: last edited 5 Feb 2024 3:32 pm

      yes we always have to have in place a risk assesment and whats called a COSHH assesment that looks at all the chemicals we will use and how dangerous they can be. then when working in the lab we always have to wear a lab coat. safety specs for our eyes. gloves to protect our hands from chemicals and chemical resistant and anti static safety shoes.

    • Photo: Erin Pallott

      Erin Pallott answered on 5 Feb 2024:

      Yes absolutely. Almost all jobs require safety precautions, but some areas of science come with very specific risks. I work with biological material which involves a risk of spreading disease. I have to follow strict rules and wear protective clothing while I handle it.
      I occasionally work with parasites that can infect humans. So of course I am VERY careful when handling these samples.

    • Photo: Martin McCoustra

      Martin McCoustra answered on 5 Feb 2024:

      Yes… we are very carefully in our research. We work with high temperatures, vacuum, X-rays, high voltages and chemica substances that can be dangerous to your health. We operate a system of risk assessment where we consider the seriousness of an event and it’s likelihood of happening. This means we can undertake risky activities if we understand those risks and can control them.

    • Photo: Bruno Silvester Lopes

      Bruno Silvester Lopes answered on 5 Feb 2024:

      Yes. In the labs, we wear lab coats and eye goggles for instance. We also have standard operating procedures/practices that we adhere to and also follow guidelines lab practices 🙂 At workstation/desk we have desk-based risk assessment to identify risks and how we can reduce those!

    • Photo: David Bremner

      David Bremner answered on 6 Feb 2024:

      Without doubt, when working in the lab i wear appropriate Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) which is a labcoat, safety goggles and usually gloves.

    • Photo: Alexander De Bruin

      Alexander De Bruin answered on 6 Feb 2024:

      Absolutely! Before starting any experiment we have to assess the risks. We then figure out which precautions that we need to take (goggles, lab coat, gloves, fume hood, etc) before going into the lab. We also review when precautions we need to use when handling each chemical or during each process (coating, drying, etc)

    • Photo: Graeme Barker

      Graeme Barker answered on 6 Feb 2024:

      Yes! As chemistry researchers, in my group we always do a thorough risk assessment before starting any new research to identify potential hazards first. In the lab we always wear safety glasses and lab coats, and we sometime have additional safety precautions as well – special methods to make safe any toxic by-products, for example. We have had a couple of small fires, and quite a few spillages of toxic chemicals in my time, but no one has ever been hurt because we’re always prepared!

    • Photo: Kirsty Lindsay

      Kirsty Lindsay answered on 6 Feb 2024:

      Yes- being safe is more important than collecting data!
      My research uses people, so we often have an assigned “safety person” who’s job in the experiment is looking after everyone else.

      It can be simple things like making sure wires can’t be tripped over, to more complex things observing/ monitoring the participants closely during a test in case they pass out.

    • Photo: Hannah Fawcett

      Hannah Fawcett answered on 6 Feb 2024:

      Yes. All research in psychology has to receive ethical approval. This involves risk assessments for participants and researchers to make sure that risk of psychological and physical harm is minimised, and appropriate support is in place. We have lots of training and regulations to make sure that we follow the best safety procedures.

    • Photo: Fergus McKiddie

      Fergus McKiddie answered on 6 Feb 2024:

      Yes, as our research involves patients there are lots of permissions and safety requirements that we have to get in place before we start. We also have to ask the patients permission to make sure they want to be involved in the project. Depending on the size of the project there will be permissions you have to get at local, national and sometimes international level which can be very time consuming and frustrating.

    • Photo: Sophie Spinks

      Sophie Spinks answered on 6 Feb 2024:

      Yes! You have to make sure that you are safe, before anything else! People look at the research and experiments planned and do a risk assessment. This helps you figure out what could be a hazard or harm you and the steps you can take, to make sure you are safe. This can include wearing a lab coat, wearing safety goggles and wearing gloves. We also have to be careful near open flames and when handling anything sharp!

    • Photo: Karen Edwards

      Karen Edwards answered on 6 Feb 2024: last edited 6 Feb 2024 3:52 pm

      I’m a computer modeller so my main safety precautions are against repetitive stress injury from typing! But, I have gotten to do fieldwork and safety is always really important.

    • Photo: Lydia Eeles

      Lydia Eeles answered on 6 Feb 2024:

      Yes, there are many different types of safety precautions that need to be taken during research activities. Some of them will be more or less relevant depending on the type of research that you do.

      In the UK, it is the employers responsibility to provide all suitable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for all of their employees, this includes things like safety goggles, lab coats and gloves for most research. My lab has extended this to safety shoes too, although this is generally more of a recognized piece of PPE when doing manufacturing activities in case something heavy is dropped on the feet.

      Other safety precautions involve the use of fume hoods for when using volatile chemicals, and generally taking care to avoid spills.

      In my particular research that I do, I also have to wear a mask when handling certain chemicals and powders as they can be known to damage the respiratory system. In my previous role I had to use other protective gear, which included a full overall suit and ventilator.

      Sometimes, the use of these safety precautions is not because the use of the substance being handled is itself dangerous, but instead the safety is to prevent contamination of the precious samples that you might be handling.

      I hope this answers your question.

    • Photo: Chigozie Onuba

      Chigozie Onuba answered on 7 Feb 2024: last edited 7 Feb 2024 4:27 am

      Definitely, i have to abide by the health and safety policy of the department and Trust with reference to health and safety at work Act, COSHH regulations( when handling hazardous chemicals) as well as refer to health and safety executive guidelines.
      I also carry out risk assessment as well as audit and document my findings for review during our monthly health and safety meetings
      I also have to wear my PPE whilst in the lab or when carrying out diagnostic work.

    • Photo: Kirsty Ross

      Kirsty Ross answered on 7 Feb 2024:

      Absolutely. When out and about delivering activities about research, I have to make sure that the presenters and our audiences are safe by doing a risk assessment. This is a living document that should be updated when things change. It doesn’t get rid of risk entirely, but it does show what you’ve done to reduce risks to as low as possible. Your folks will have to do something similar when they take you to trampoline parks and other activities where you may come to harm.

    • Photo: Michael Schubert

      Michael Schubert answered on 7 Feb 2024:

      Yes, absolutely! You have to think about all the possible risks beforehand and do as much as you can to remove those risks or make them as unlikely as possible. Some types of risks require special approval beforehand (like when there might be a negative impact on humans) or specific types of training or preparation (like getting a vaccine you might not normally get so you are protected against diseases that might come from a lab animal or other material).

      Then, as you’re working, you have to take as many precautions as are needed to stay safe, which might be anything from wearing gloves to working in special types of laboratories that have extra safety precautions. For example, if you’re working with radiation, you have to go into a special room with protections, wear special clothing, and have a badge that lets you know how much exposure you are getting. If you’re working with very sensitive samples, sometimes you need to work in a room that air can flow out of, but not into – or, if you’re working with dangerous samples, you might need a room or piece of equipment that air can flow into, but not out of!

      After you are finished, you also need to make sure that you clean up and dispose of everything safely. Some chemicals can go down a sink drain, but some need to be neutralised, sent to a biohazard facility, incinerated, or looked after by specialists in other ways.

    • Photo: Lisa Humphreys

      Lisa Humphreys answered on 7 Feb 2024:

      Always. It’s imperative. As I work with energetics. We always start working very small amounts of the materials to gain insight as to how they behave. If they are very sensitive (easily initiated) we need to be careful with the protocols we have in place for handling them to make sure we are protected.

      If you work in a lab, you have to be mindful of what your fellow scientists are doing. Even if your experiment seems less hazardous theirs may not be. It’s always good to be prepared. Fume hoods, PPE etc. Training is one of the most important things.

    • Photo: David McGonigle

      David McGonigle answered on 11 Feb 2024:

      Oh gosh, yes. My absolute nightmare was when I had a lady in the MRI – a brain scanning machine – for an experiment. She had come all the way from Finland – it was because of some unusual experiences that she’d had after suffering a stroke.

      So she was in the MRI. I was ‘driving’ (!) and noticed a dark patch in the centre of her brain. Through a translator we realised it was because she had a metal clip in her brain. Not unexpected after a stroke…but we had been through a VERY extensive safety questionnaire. With a translator. The ‘metal in body’ box had not been ticked.

      I’ll spare you the rest of the story but…from now on I get my students and postdocs to stress and ask these questions in person, not relying on a filled out form. It makes a big difference when you’re putting people into what is essentially a super duper powerful magnet…