I teach in a college department that includes both biology and chemistry labs. Our chemical hygiene plan is designed to cover both types of labs. One statement we have is that eye protection must be worn when students use "chemicals, fire, or glass." Lately the question has come up as to whether microbiology students sterilizing loops with a Bunsen burners need eye protection. One thought is that professional microbiologists do not do this. The other thought is that since we require eye protection in chemistry labs when students use the burners so we should also require it in microbiology. Another objection is that the goggles might melt in the flame and cause another problem. (It has been suggested we carry out tests of eye wear with burners and use tongs to hold them in the flame and determine how long melting takes.)
How have other departments handled such concerns? Is use of burners in microbiology by students a lesser risk than use of burners in chemistry labs?
Thanks for any thoughts that anyone has on this. --Nancy
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