Top lab safety excuses

Top lab safety excuses from the university community:  These are on the lighter side, but most were presented to or confirmed by others to members of the Lab Safety Discussion List  as serious reasons (excuses) for personal behavior .  

The original top 10 excuses were compiled and noted to the discussion group (1/11/05) by Larry G. Cattoor at The University of Kansas.  Per Cattoor, some are actual quotes, others are paraphrased with the bad words edited out.  

More (excuses) were quickly contributed by those that wanted to get their 2-cents in the listserv discussion.  Other quotes may be added if discussion of the topic continues. 


  1. Those rules (regulations/laws) don't apply to my lab.
  2. I buy that chemical in bulk and store the extra because I might need more sometime in the future.
  3. I have no idea where all that waste came from.
  4. That's not my stuff. That was in my lab before I got here.
  5. I have to turn off the fume-hood fan because it is too loud.
  6. It was free. XYZ chemical company was going out of business and donated all this stuff to our department.
  7. I've been doing it this way for 20(30/40) years.
  8. I don't have time for this. Safety is common sense, and my research is much more important that teaching my students stuff they should already know.
  9. I thought the lab safety policy only applied to the graduate assistants.
  10. Writing lab operating procedures is like writing instructions for my husband on how to use the vacuum cleaner.


  1. "I know the rules are to wear long pants in the lab, but I am just working at my desk today, and anyway if you would keep the building cooler I wouldn't have to wear shorts."
  2. Replies to the age-old request to wear solid-topped footwear, as opposed to sandals in the lab:
    bullet"I went into academia so I could dress the way I want!"
    bullet"If I want to get frog blood on my feet, that's my business."
  3. "But I'm not DOING anything (in this lab)!" (....and therefore I am safe) 
  4. "Gloves just encourage sloppy work; it's safer to work barehanded so you know when you've spilled some material."
  5. "I am willing to die for my research." 
  6. "I've been doing it this way since you were in diapers!" (reference to number 7 above)
  7. "Well, I can't smell it because I killed my ability to smell years ago with all the chemicals I have sniffed in the lab."
  8. "Nothing bad has ever happened before"
  9. Reason for wearing gloves outside the lab (such as to pick up stuff in the storeroom)..."I just put them on."
  10. "As soon as you get all those Biologists (pointing to the building next door) to wear their safety glasses then I'll wear mine."
  11. "If you want to become a chemist, ...., you have to ruin your health....." (partial quote from Prudent Practices ... 1995 edition)
  12. "It's OK, my dad does it all the time" (science student using razor to cut toward self) 
  13. "I didn't work to get this body so I could wear a plastic apron" (high school student wearing a halter top to chem lab) 

This page was last updated on 01/13/2005