We received a question recently about proper eye protection that got us thinking. Many of us have probably seen the horror stories of nails stuck in eyes of employees and other such gruesome accidents. Did you know that about 2000 eye injuries occur on the job every day?
Good facility planning and the proper solutions for HVAC systems credit today's successful forensic facilities. Together they support modern forensic laboratories by providing comfort for lab occupants and an environment that supports scientific investigation.
One problem with all hoods, but definitely more so with chemical hoods than others in our experience, is that as a cabinet space in a lab they tend to accumulate stuff and are frequently used for storage.
In this column we will address some of the most common Environmental, Health & Safety questions that arise during the design process.
Many locations may appear relatively benign but can hold hidden hazards with potentially fatal consequences for any who enter unprepared. These hazards can include, depending on conditions; lack of oxygen, toxic or flammable gases, risk of entrapment/engulfment, physical or mechanical hazards, and crushing or entombment from soil collapse.
There are still many misconceptions surrounding the use of respiratory protection whether it is in response to a possible weapons of mass destruction incident, processing a crime scene with chemicals, in confined spaces, or dealing with infectious agents. So let’s start at the beginning.
In many forensic settings, either in the field or in the lab, use of the latex examination glove has become the norm. But for some workers, wearing the disposable latex gloves may produce allergic reactions.
Run over, walked on, crimped in windows and doors, left out in sun and storm alike, strung together, bent, yanked and strung across rooms and under carpets, strewn across wet grass and through holes in walls, taped up and snarled in tangles. Electrical cords, one of the most indispensable tools we use today but often with little consideration and used in a fashion that could have disastrous results.
The toxicological effects of chemicals can manifest themselves in a number of ways. The results of exposure from some materials can be felt immediately such as watering of the eyes with lachrymators.
Even the most dangerous chemicals can be used safely in the forensic laboratory if people recognize the hazards, are trained to deal with those hazards, use appropriate safeguards, and are committed to preventing injuries and illnesses.
Understanding the required Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) programs and recognizing hazards will help you to identify and correct many of the common safety and health hazards associated with doing forensic analysis and research.