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I heard from a colleague the other day about a repetitive motion injury she has sustained, working in a glove box for extended periods of time - 9-10 hours in some cases, multiple times a week. Her PI, while he has high expectations, is supportive and empathetic to her.
Physical therapy has helped but that doesn't solve the root cause: this glove box and most glove boxes are designed for the standard male - 5'10"-6' tall with the attendant shoulder distance to be able to access the glove ports. She's a very short woman with the attendant smaller distance across her shoulders. Injury was inevitable.
There are a couple of issues here:
- She's a graduate student and currently covered under student health insurance and not workers comp. This injury could result in life-altering health effects with no long term remedy. Once again, graduate students are excluded from the protections of workers comp.
- Equipment designers ignore the fact that some 50% of the scientific work force are women. Bespoke design isn't possible. What's wrong with designing flexibility or adjustability into scientific equipment - particularly the big tickets?
I know I'm railing at the universe here but it's just more examples of how women scientists (and small men, for that matter) are generally ignored and how graduate students, doing the heavy lifting of discovery research, continue to be exploited to the point of injury.
Thanks for listening.
Debbie M. Decker, ACS Fellow
Chemistry Dept. Safety Manager (ret.)
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