Lab Manners (Was Flooring in Histology ...)

From:"J. A. Kiernan" <>

On Tue, 10 Oct 2000, Kathy Paton wrote:

> Sorry to raise a well worn issue. Wax on the floors ...

This issue was much discussed but not resolved in HistoNet exchanges
 ? about a year ago. All contributors seemed to assume that it was
impossible to work without spilling wax on the floor, leaving it
there, and then spreading it around the building by sole of shoe.

  I refrained at that time from posting such questions as: "Could you
  try not to spill wax on the floor?"  and  "If you spill wax on the
  floor, why don't you scrape it off and clean up?"  My own lab isn't 
  a busy one, but since 1962 I've been in and out of histology labs
  that work their way through huge volumes of wax and must occasionally
  spill some on the floor. I have never encountered waxy floors as
  an occupational hazard. 

  Is it not part of universal laboratory etiquette that if you break 
  or spill something you clean up the mess immediately? This tradition
  began (I think) with John Dalton, whose spectacular public 
  lecture-demonstrations at the Royal Institution ended with "not a 
  drop spilt upon the bench." JD was a schoolmaster and amateur chemist,
  early C19, who discovered carbon dioxide and recognized what it was, 
  and proposed the theory that each element was composed of atoms,
  recognizable by their characteristic weights. JD was a great thinker
  who was also blessed with a steady hand.

Back to the point. Is it or isn't it ridiculous to consider 
carelessly spilled wax a serious but unavoidable occupational
hazard? I'll stop now, to prevent premature explosion.

 John A. Kiernan,
 Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology,
 The University of Western Ontario,
 LONDON,  Canada 

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