A timely sign about lab safety

Reader Arno called my attention to an article in A Plus reporting the sequel of Georgia (along with ten other U.S. states) having passed a law allowing “concealed carry” of handguns on college campuses. It’s lunacy, but that’s America, folks.

This sign may be apocryphal, but it’s still funny:

. . . Such legislation is what reportedly prompted one person at the University of Georgia to post a sign highlighting the ridiculousness of the law. Said sign, which quickly gained popularity on Reddit earlier this week, is reportedly posted on the door to a science lab, and, although A Plus was not able to verify its location by press time, the debate it sparked is itself worth of report.

Yes, sandals are prohibited in many labs, as there’s a chance of spilling dangerous stuff on your feet or dropping something on them. I don’t know any lab that prohibits skirts or shorts, but that may well be the case in some places.


  1. Posted July 28, 2017 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Cell Biology BSC-2 lab here.

    Our labs allow shorts or skirts but only if one is wearing a lab coat that extends below the knees. No open toed shoes under any circumstances. All work is done in laminar flow hoods.

    Gloves are required as well (of course) but as much to protect our experiments from ourselves as they are to protect us from our experiments.

  2. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted July 28, 2017 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Open-toed shoes: at an institution where I previously worked, someone was wearing sandals in lab while plating bacteria. It is/was a fairly common practice to flame the spreader to sterilize it between plates. This entails having a Petri dish of ethanol on the bench, and a Bunsen burner. You can see where this is going, the lab worker spilled flaming ethanol on her feet.

  3. Posted July 28, 2017 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Some U of California schools prohibit shorts and skirts in labs. My lab got a slap on the wrist just last week for “inappropriate lab attire”: a couple of our UG volunteers were wearing shorts.

    • Posted July 28, 2017 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

      I used to be at UCSD. I recall the incredibly laid back culture, where professors would come in wearing swim trunks, their board and wet suit, and teach a class.

  4. jaxkayaker
    Posted July 28, 2017 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    At the two universities and two colleges where I’ve taught, long pants are a general requirement of the teaching labs. Probably supposed to be in the research labs as well, but we used our judgement of what we needed for PPE.

  5. danfromm
    Posted July 28, 2017 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, Drexel University requires long pants and solid shoes in all labs.

  6. abram
    Posted July 28, 2017 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    I nearly always carry a gun or two(interestingly one of my favorite combos is a Glock and a tiny revolver, pictured here), and have saved lives and defused violent situations a number of times. I’m not clear on how this qualifies as lunacy.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted July 28, 2017 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      Guns save lives…that’s a good one. Probably from some violent flip flops.

      • Paul S
        Posted July 28, 2017 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

        Defusing violent situations with a show of violence. Is LOL allowed on a website?

        • Craw
          Posted July 28, 2017 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

          Is your position that the use of a gun can never avert further violence?

        • abram
          Posted July 29, 2017 at 3:24 am | Permalink

          That is the primary purpose of weapons, in my view.

          LOL is allowed.

    • Gareth Price
      Posted July 28, 2017 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      Coming from England where nobody carries handguns, I would imagine that drawing a handgun in a lab miht dangerously inflame a situation.

    • johnw
      Posted July 28, 2017 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      I hear ya… I like to carry a couple guns in the lab too. Especially as the Glock has a tendency to stovepipe at the worst times. But they sure do come in handy lighting Bunsen burners or dealing with moochers in the department who come to use our stuff, or taking down outta control hela cells. I like to carry the little revolver strapped to my arm with one of those little quick draw gizmos like Lee Van Cleef in a For a Few Dollars More. I wear a broad-brimmed sweat-stained hat and an XXL lab coat so I have plenty of sleeve room, but always with close-toed shoes and full length pants.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted July 28, 2017 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

        Probably should consider safety shoes to avoid shooting yourself in the foot.

        • johnw
          Posted July 28, 2017 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

          I thought of maybe bullet-proof shoes, as there are some companies now that claim to make them…But you know, so often stuff they say is bullet proof really isn’t truly bullet proof. Just almost bullet proof. What are ya gonna do?

          • Randy schenck
            Posted July 28, 2017 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

            Yes and if you spend the money on bullet proof shoes you’ll probably step on a mine.

    • Posted July 28, 2017 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      Ummm… interesting, not sure if you’re taking the piss or what but are you saying you would go into a shoot out with others or perhaps when an argument gets heated and you perceived to be out of control, you would draw your guns.
      I am bemused and slightly alarmed if that is what you’re saying.
      I don’t live in the US and you or anyone else would not be allowed to enter my house with one gun, let alone two.
      Anyhow, from my point of view, the waving of guns in an argument would certainly have the effect of lunacy.

      • abram
        Posted July 29, 2017 at 3:26 am | Permalink

        Thank you for that information.

    • somer
      Posted July 28, 2017 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

      You are just excusing the status enhancing right to free access to the means of lethal violence that happens to exist in america. The more guns and the less regulated – the harder it is to stop them getting into the hands of criminals or anyone violently inclined.

      The proliferation of guns – especially hand guns and of multiple fire or large magazine weapons – leads to ever greater risk of violence – a general culture of violence – Like the insane level of shooting deaths amongst blacks saturated with gun access in Chicago – or the ridiculously higher level of homicides in America compared to the rest of the West and even most of the rest of the world. Everyone anticipates violence and acts accordingly. This spreads eventually to the police forces whose standards of engagement are eroded as they must anticipate ambush and violence even in apparently benign circumstances. The recent Justine Damond case in Minnesota is a good example

      Gun culture also seems to be very popular with evangelicals even in Australia but they can’t indulge it. The self righteous “right” to carry handguns is just a perceived right to intimidate and dictate.

      • Andy
        Posted July 29, 2017 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

        Excellent post Somer!

    • Posted September 5, 2017 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      That’s excellent, BUT most people – myself included – do not have the qualities to handle a gun responsibly.

  7. Kevin
    Posted July 28, 2017 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Most DOE facilities require long pants for most circumstances. Chemicals and radiological stuff.

    Guns, fortunately are not allowed and probably would cause immediate expulsion.

    • eric
      Posted July 28, 2017 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

      …Chemicals and radiological stuff…

      Yes. My initial thought on reading Jerry’s unfamiliarity with the ‘long pants’ rule is that maybe this is a difference between biology and (some) chemistry lab courses. It’s been a while but I think we had a long pants rule for both some of the chem labs I took as an undergrad and some of the chem labs I TA’d as a grad student.

      On the plus side, chem labs also tend to have a “no tie” rule. 🙂

  8. Kevin F
    Posted July 28, 2017 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Pretty much any synthetic chemistry lab will prohibit shorts and skirts. Same reason as the sandals, can’t have any exposed skin where there may be spills.

  9. Andy
    Posted July 28, 2017 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Yup, leaving aside the gun lunacy: exposed skin is pretty much discouraged anywhere there is or might be nasty chemicals.
    If you work with electricity, the type of fiber is also regulated. Interestingly that extends to underwear! So, seriously, the sort of underwear I can wear is regulated in some circumstances…

    • eric
      Posted July 28, 2017 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

      The places I went to school and worked didn’t regulate synthetic fabric wear, but they did show the cool video of the dummy being melted when its polyester clothes caught fire. That made the point quite effectively.

      • Andy
        Posted July 29, 2017 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

        Yes! For exactly that reason. Apparently both leather and silk are considered acceptable… Although I suspect cotton is probably what they expect.

  10. Heather Hastie
    Posted July 28, 2017 at 6:59 pm | Permalink


    • Craw
      Posted July 28, 2017 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

      Open-toed sandals are allowed in Swiss labs?

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted July 28, 2017 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

        I was referring to the guns, as I suspect you’re aware.

        And, unfortunately, I’ve never been to Switzerland and have no knowledge of the rules of their labs. However, I would assume open-toed sandals are not de rigueur there.

        • Craw
          Posted July 28, 2017 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

          I too was referring to guns.

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted July 28, 2017 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

            Then what you are trying to say is completely beyond me. I think I am probably glad about that.

            • Craw
              Posted July 29, 2017 at 9:01 am | Permalink

              America is not the only country with permissive gun laws. So if permissive gun laws together with restrictions on flip flops is OnlyInAmerica …

              • Heather Hastie
                Posted July 29, 2017 at 9:27 am | Permalink

                It’s the only developed country with such gun laws. The 2006 SCOTUS decision has a lot to answer for too. In no other developed country do citizens kill each other or themselves using guns at anywhere close to the rate of the US.

              • Craw
                Posted July 29, 2017 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

                So, Switzerland is not a developed country?

                Here, let me head off another round of this.


  11. Sneowshoesiamese
    Posted July 29, 2017 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    I word in a medical lab, and open toe/heel shoes are forbidden in addition to skirts and shorts. We also are required to wear protective gowns and gloves when handling open specimens, and for particularly infectious specimens, we open them inside a BSC (bio safety cabinet).
    Since I’m in Canada, there’s no specific rule regarding guns in the lab. Likely the only time that happens is when a police officer comes to subpoena specimens. Even our own security guards don’t have sidearms.

  12. Posted July 29, 2017 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Also disallowed: cloth covered chairs.

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