Macho field biology, a suggestion

kkaye at kkaye at
Fri Mar 10 10:23:21 EST 1995

Machismo in field work? You betcha!

What to do about the safety issue: inform yourself of your OSHA terms; inform
yourself of the Good Laboratory Practice/QA procedures for your discipline,
perhaps as employed by the EPA; then trot along to your boss and, in the
interests of the firm or group, offer to review the past and current field
projects for their conformity to health and safety legislation, with a view
towards: (1) meeting industry standards and making your firm or group more
competitive; (2) protecting the firm against slipping or nonexistent safety
standards which might involve them in a lawsuit; (3) ensuring that they qualify
for contract work funded by givernment at any level (4) protecting workers,
both male and female, and (5) establishing a good policy to ensure that people
who are *worth* hiring find your firm attractive.

This makes you look interested in the firm's future rather than complaining. In
fact, if you actually outline the parameters of the review and have something
firm to show your boss or his boss (better option, probably: whose rear is on
the line in case of a lawsuit?) and a timeframe for completing the review, you
will get your message across. You are serious; the issue is serious; either
they get on line with field safety or they handicap themselves. This means
extra library work for you whilst you check out the relevant legislation, but
there are journals to start with which review this kind of stuff, and if need
be you can quote line and verse of statutes later in the review process.

This is a professional issue, although it is also a gender issue; treat it
professionally. There MUST BE industry and government standards for field
practices: we have this branch of GLP in the UK and I am sure we got it from
developing agreements with e.g. the EPA and the USGS.

good luck and keep a cool head

(Dr.) Katherine J. Kaye

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