Microscopy and Health and Safety

As with almost any activity undertaken by mankind, microscopy involves some element of hazard. The risk associated with a hazard depends on what the hazard is, how long you are exposed to it and how careful you are when dealing with it. The risk also depends on who is affected and how it might impact them.

Specific hazards of beekeeping microscopy are: Chemicals, Naked Flames, the Microscopes themselves, Sharp Implements, Electricity and Bees.

As usual the risks of these hazards are much reduced if common sense is exercised!

A number of different chemicals are used, some of which are harmful because they are corrosive or flammable. Some are irritants and can cause irritation to skin and respiratory tracts. However the quantities used are low and if sensible precautions such as protective equipment and adequate ventilation are used the risks are low. Waste and used chemicals should be disposed of safely and in accordance with the labels on the bottles.

Naked flames should be kept away from flammable surfaces and volatile and flammable chemicals.

Microscopes can be heavy so be careful when handling them and try to adopt a good posture when using them for prolonged periods.

Take care with needles and scalpels, particularly when renewing the blades. Cover slide glass is very thin and breaks easily and can cause injury. Broken glass should be disposed of carefully, wrapped in newspaper to avoid injury to others.

The main hazard of working with bees is that they sting. The bees used for microscopy are usually dead, much reducing the risk. However it is still possible to be stung by a dead bee!