So, here’s a picture of me and my lab mate:
Jumping for joy! That’s me on the right 🙂
Why are we so happy, you ask? We had just finished filming (and photographing) a video based on the correct footwear to wear in a lab.
I’m a University lecturer, and I love teaching in the lab. It’s probably my favourite part of the job. You can see from the photo above that our School recently got some brand-spanking-new food science laboratories. They’re beautiful and bright and clean. Yet, to be honest, they’re not entirely safe.
Don’t get me wrong. They weren’t built incorrectly. They don’t have extremely sharp corners for people to bump into. They don’t have people hiding in dark corners, ready to prey on unsuspecting students with handfuls of candy.
But they’re not entirely safe.
Any science lab is not entirely safe.
That’s why every (good) lab that you walk into has a set of strict rules. Some of these rules include that you must tie your hair back, and wear a lab coat, gloves, and safety glasses. Why? Because we’re not dealing with salt and sugar and vinegar, like in your kitchen at home. Some of the solutions and reagents that are used within these laboratories may burn through your clothes. Others may (most likely won’t and definitely shouldn’t, but may) spontaneously burst into flame if a room gets too warm. If you drop some of these solutions on a bench and splash up into your eye, well… you may never see again. So you are asked to protect yourself.
The same applies to shoes. If you walk into a lab wearing sandals, or thongs, or ugg boots, and you drop a strong acid solution on your feet, you are going to know about it. In our lab, if you don’t wear the correct and safe footwear, you are asked to wear the ‘gumboots of shame’. Yup, they’re just as embarrassing as you imagine.
So now I’m sure you understand why we’re so excited about safe footwear in the lab… Because we don’t have to wear the gumboots of shame 😉