• Question: @all did you ever hurt yourself when you did an experiment

    Asked by Olly on 8 Nov 2023. This question was also asked by VictoriaC.
    • Photo: Karen Edwards

      Karen Edwards answered on 8 Nov 2023:

      No, but I decided computer modelling was for me when I did an experiment with small sea anemones and had to cut one of their tentacles off (they apparently have no nerves and couldn’t feel it but I still felt really bad).

    • Photo: Tanya Riley

      Tanya Riley answered on 8 Nov 2023:

      I think the closest I have come to hurting myself during an experiment is when I got some sea urchin spikes stuck in my finger when I picked one up whilst at was doing a project at university. I decided that working with animals that had spikes was not for me.

    • Photo: Benedikte Ranum

      Benedikte Ranum answered on 8 Nov 2023:

      No, that’s never happened to me (although my job doesn’t involve actually doing experiments), and it’s never happened to anyone I’ve worked with. Or nothing serious, anyway.

    • Photo: Anton Edwards

      Anton Edwards answered on 8 Nov 2023:

      In the 1950s, it was easier to buy chemicals than today so I was able to do the school chemistry experiments in my own cellar at home. I tried hard to be safe: I read about the dangers of each chemical first, I wore goggles, I wore old clothes, wore rubber gloves sometimes and a laboratory coat; I handled things very carefully. But I still managed to drop a bit of acid on my hands, burn myself slightly with the Bunsen burner and singe my eyebrows, so I think I was lucky not to suffer anything worse!

    • Photo: James Bron

      James Bron answered on 8 Nov 2023:

      No major injuries thankfully but I am always very careful about safety when doing experiments. I have nonetheless suffered minor injuries, particularly from fish teeth and spiky fins, but also when glass equipment like lab beakers have broken while I have been handling them.

    • Photo: Clemence Fraslin

      Clemence Fraslin answered on 9 Nov 2023:

      I’m not a lab scientist (for plenty of reasons, one of them is because I’m very clumsy!) and I’m most of the time in front of a computer so very little chances of injuries (although I’ve blocked my back once by turning too quickly, really painful but not sure it counts as an injury during an experiment). During my PhD I went to fish farms and I may have slip in the mud, the only thing that was injured was my ego…

    • Photo: Constance Schere

      Constance Schere answered on 9 Nov 2023:

      I sometimes have to handle wildlife, so I have been attacked a few times (nipped, bitten). During field work on uneven terrain I have fallen once or twice and injured myself as well, mostly scraping my legs on rocks! But thankfully, nothing serious.

    • Photo: Cristina Steliana Mihailovici

      Cristina Steliana Mihailovici answered on 9 Nov 2023:

      No, not personally, but accidents are happening, and health and safety and risk assessments must to be done each time.

    • Photo: Amina Moss

      Amina Moss answered on 9 Nov 2023:

      No major injury, just minor ones. This is why we take Health and Safety quite seriously and we have rules in place for the proper disposal of chemicals, broken glassware, and so on.

      I did have lots of struggle with flatfish (Japanese flounder), they were so heavy and moving so intensively that they slipped away from me and their fins scrapped my legs.

      Likewise with crabs, if not wearing the appropriate gloves, and not following proper handling, I can be (and have been) clawed which is not always fun.

    • Photo: Mimi Asogwa

      Mimi Asogwa answered on 9 Nov 2023:

      No I have not.

      One time though I got bacteria suspension into my eyes and washed many times no problems.

    • Photo: Wasseem Emam

      Wasseem Emam answered on 9 Nov 2023:

      Not in the lab but in the field, yes. When you work with large fish, and use electrofishing to sample them, it can be tricky when they swim fast towards you as they are stunned.

    • Photo: Camilla Cassidy

      Camilla Cassidy answered on 9 Nov 2023:

      A little! My biggest experiment involved looking after lots of fish tanks. I had to move these around all the time. It was possible to pick up two fish tanks at once by pinching them between my fingers – imagine how you’d pick up a pair of boots with one hand. However, the tanks are quite heavy, and doing this every week for two years gave me something in my hands called carpal tunnel, where the nerve that runs through your wrist gets stressed so makes you feel like you have pins and needles all the time. It was an important lesson for me to do things properly, not just quickly – if I’d been carrying my tanks like I should have been, with two hands each, I wouldn’t still have pins and needles in my hands years later!

    • Photo: Anuschka Miller

      Anuschka Miller answered on 14 Nov 2023:

      Not physically, but I think I had a mental injury when I had to dry and grind up flatfish for a research project: the powder got into every nook and cranny of me and I smelled like a fish after a week in the sunshine. Made me sit on my own a lot (although many of my friends were marine folk). Didn’t make me feel attractive…

    • Photo: Ambre Chapuis

      Ambre Chapuis answered on 15 Nov 2023:

      It happened, nothing major but once I was injecting a wax worm with (glowing) fungi and I unfortunately stabbed myself with the needle. Procedures were followed to make sure that I was safe. But now I am extra careful with needles for sure.

    • Photo: Stephanie Horn

      Stephanie Horn answered on 16 Nov 2023:

      I’ve only ever cut myself by mistake during an experiment, just a small cut with a scalpel. But I’ve worked with loads of dangerous chemicals which require a lot of protective equipment and carefulness.

    • Photo: Jonathan Teague

      Jonathan Teague answered on 17 Nov 2023:

      Whilst diving on reefs sometimes you can brush fire coral which is sort of like stinging nettles very minor but can be painful