The Illusion of Safety

Earlier this week – prompted by a new report on safety in academic chemical research labs – Science Careers posted an article titled “Practical steps to make lab workers safer”. The article highlights that students, postdocs and technicians “face the greatest risk of injury […] —yet they are often powerless to make their working lives safer”, and then lists a number of proposals for improvements. While I haven’t read the actual report (available for a mere 45$), this basic ideas resonates well with recurring discussions I have had with friends and colleagues about highly impractical safety procedures. Sometimes these regulations are so stupid, I am convinced they are aimed less at ensuring actual safety than an illusion of it, covering employers assess should it ever come to an accident and/or legal action. Continue reading