Monday, 13 June 2011

Laboratory Safety

All accidents in the workplace come down to human error. One viewpoint is that accidents are unavoidable. However those of us who have come to terms with this chaos of life have faith in the business of risk management. By keeping in mind some basic precedents you can be safe in the workplace.

1. Always wear a lab coat
When spills happen your lab coat is the one barrier that will minimize damage, protecting your body from harm. Below are situations where a lab coat prevented a terrible injury. Always wear it.

2. Look away from hazards
A lab coat is good for handling spills, but will not let you avoid all potential threats. Often seeing hazards causes more injury than experiencing them. The best way to nullify this danger is to never acknowledge its existence in the first place.

3. Use equipment as it was intended
Being in a field still being explored with principles not yet established often encourages us to be creative. However this is not a free pass to be creative and dangerously improvise something it wasn't meant for.

4. Keep non-essential personnel out of the lab
Our friends and family are often curious of our work. Their presence presents a dangerous distraction. In turn being unmindful can be harmful for yourself and your close ones.

In conclusion we see that dangers are avoidable. We owe it to ourselves to take the minimum precaution expected of us. I hope this has shown you that if human error can amplify hazards, then human diligence can nullify them even less. We owe it to ourselves to keep trying!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011


There is an effective approach to not telling the truth while at the same time avoiding a lie. This method is referred to as omission. It is certain everybody has used this technique at least once in the past, more likely subconsciously. Here we will see how in the past brilliant minds with something to hide systemized it into a strategy for information warfare.

We have often mistake what we hear as factual. The absence of information is often assumed as an absence of the item in question. This results in oversight resulting from overconfidence in false assumptions.

In a scientific laboratory this applies in preventing the theft of expensive chemicals. The fact is that the greatest alarm systems or security measures can deter theft but not stop it. No system accessible to universities can detain a thief once she has set of the alarm nor stop the theft in progress. Our job instead is to present no need for these systems simply by hiding the fact anything valuable worth stealing even exists. Doing this we take it one step further. Instead of preventing break-ins, we go so far as to prevent any tempting thoughts of stealing in the first place.

We can see now that omission is a powerful tool. Instead of placing our valuable chemicals in a prominent safe, we use an inconspicuous fridge. Instead of costly alarm systems, we circumvent any cause for alarm beforehand.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Securing Your Chemicals

My first post will deal with perhaps the most important topic of all in any biology or chemistry lab: the security of your biochemicals. Any scientist knows that the chemicals in her lab are her assets.

Let's start by looking at the price of common molecules. These are actual prices taken from Sigma, one of many biotech companies.

1g of NADH = $395.00
5g of ATP = $540.00
25g of cAMP = $2,835.00

Now if you took science in highschool, you have just realized these are all molecules found in the human body! That's right you are a walking asset worth hundreds upon thousands of dollars. However extracting these chemicals is not easy, and requires millions of dollars worth in laboratories.

As a result scientists though scientists spend a great deal of money to acquire these assets from biotech companies its a fraction of the price it would cost to obtain these chemicals directly from a subject. Thus any university lab holds thousands upon dollars in assets.

However walk into any lab and you will see many chemicals stocked on the shelves. The truth is these chemicals on display are of little value. A good scientist hides the expensive assets from public view safely secured by omission.

Omission is a psychological technique that I intent to delve on further in my next post. To put it simply it's to keep information a need to know basis. It is why professors hide information from their students, and why the Dean doesn't truly know what is within each lab of the universities she oversees. Look forward to it and more on tips on how to insure your biochemicals in case of theft.

Until then bye.

A Fresh New Day For Science

Hi I am Barton Aznable a researcher in an up and coming laboratory dealing with all fields of science. I have made this blog to discuss my thoughts on laboratory safety and an effective approach to elucidating worthwhile research endeavors. Look forward to more posts from me in the coming weeks.