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Conducting Scientific Research: Safety Concerns & Regulations

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  • 0:02 Scientific Research
  • 0:40 Safety Concerns
  • 2:55 Regulations
  • 4:50 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

When scientists conduct research, safety is a top concern. Learn about the kinds of hazards a scientist faces depending on the kind of work that they do, as well as some risks with scientific research. Plus, see how safety regulations protect all of us.

Scientific Research

The life sciences are the branches of science that study living things. A life scientist takes interest in how all types of organisms grow, survive and reproduce. Life is a valuable thing so it's important that scientific research be done in a way that does not bring harm to the scientist, the test subjects or the general public. In this lesson, we will take a look at safety concerns scientists face when conducting scientific research. We will also discuss how safety regulations are put in place to protect all of us.

Safety Concerns

Because there are so many types of living things, scientists that study life sciences tend to select one field to specialize in. For example, a zoologist is a scientist that studies animals. Zoologists take an interest in how animals survive in their natural habitats. Because of this, the most dedicated zoologists might leave the relative safety of their research labs to venture out into the wilderness. This was the case for a famous zoologist named Dian Fossey. Fossey studied gorillas. Her intense interest in gorillas took her to the mountain forests of Rwanda. She faced safety issues every day in order to learn about the nature of gorillas. Many of her findings and true life adventures were revealed in a book that you may have heard of called Gorillas in the Mist.

There are other scientists that study organisms living in the oceans. These scientists are called marine biologists. The ocean is a vast area that presents many safety concerns. Marine biologist may find themselves spending weeks at a time on a research vessel with little protection from severe weather or other dangers.

We see that zoologists and marine biologists must be careful when working in different environments, and they must also be cautious of the animals. These scientists need to understand that wild animals are unpredictable. They need to be aware of the risks and take precautions by carefully planning their studies and preparing for different situations.

Of course, the life sciences study all types of life. This includes living organisms that are too small to see. A microbiologist is a scientist that studies microscopic organisms. This might not sound like very dangerous work, but you need to consider the fact that microbiologists work with things like viruses and bacteria. Therefore, these scientists must take a lot of care to avoid infecting themselves or spreading an infection to others.

Regulations

Because of the risks scientists face, safety regulations have been developed to protect the scientists and other people. These regulations are not only for scientists working in the field, they also apply to you when you are working in your school science lab. There are associations, such as the National Science Teachers Association, or NSTA, that help school-age children safely study science. They set up science lab rules and regulations to keep you safe, like requiring you to wear safety glasses whenever you are working with chemicals and making sure your work space is clean and neat to maintain a safer laboratory environment.

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