coverslipping by hand

From:Cathy Mayton

Good morning fellow histonetters,
I just read through the digest regarding coverslipping by hand and of course there is plethora of reason why you should or should not coverslip using gloves.  Yes, it may be true that you have worked int the many years and never had any illness that you thought was contibuted by coverslipping without gloves.  I have been in the lab for over 31 years and we used to "wash" our microtomes every Friday in the clinical lab I worked, coverslipped without gloves without the benefits of a hood or downdraft table, made gallons of formalin in an open room and made and stained without gloves.  We had hands sometimes that looked like Easter eggs from the Pap staining, black from the elastin silver stains and pink from making Schiff's reagent or doing the periodic acid schiff (PAS).
It wasn't until 1984 I became aware that safety is very important.  This is the time that OSHA finally came out with safety rulings and you can bet there was a lot of resistance.  You heard from techs that had been in the lab over 20 years, who stored and ate their lunch on the bench, or as someone mentioned on Histonet, that they smoked while coverslipping.
I own and operate a private contract histology and we have a written chemical hygiene plan (CHP) and everyone including my youngest employee, a high school junior, has been trained on the proper use of personal protective equipment such as gloves, fume hoods.  Even my high school student can and does coverslip with nitrile gloves.  From an employers point of view I know that if I did not have these safety measures in hand and even that I do, if someone gets sick and the doctor thinks that something in the lab may be contributing to the illness, I will be paying the employee's workman's compensations.  I have been on both sides of the fence.  As an employee I did get sick due to methyl methacrylate overexposure which was due to how the lab was designed.  I continued to work, but my employer was paying for the doctor bills associated with the illness caused by the overexposure. 
You may say that "I never get sick" but I know that when and if you ever do, if you are still employed your employer may be short staffed and maybe paying not only your medical bills but also your workman's compensation.  Not only that the employer may also be fined for not adhering to safety precautions.  So, yes use common sense and your gloves provided by your employer!!
Just my 2 cents worth.
"Quality Histology with a Personal Touch"
A GLP Compliant Laboratory
Cathy A. Mayton
Wasatch Histo Consultants, Inc.

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