[Taxacom] OSHA requirements

John Grehan jgrehan at sciencebuff.org
Thu Feb 17 09:49:39 CST 2011

I have a question directed to those on this list who are involved in dissection work with invertebrates where one may be working with specimens stored in alcohol or being macerated in KOH (5%) and work in a facility that follows OSHA regulations in the US. Our institution is moving to being compliant with OSHA and so I am checking on the requirement for working with the above chemicals when dissecting bugs (moths in my case). I have been informed that when working with any chemicals that OSHA requires handing procedures to follow the specifications on the MSDS sheets for each chemical.


According to the MSDS sheets for 70% ethyl alcohol I should be wearing appropriate protective eyeglasses or chemical safety goggles as described by OSHA's eye and face

protection regulations in 29 CFR 1910.133 or European Standard EN166, wearing protective gloves to prevent skin exposure, and appropriate protective clothing to prevent skin exposure. For 70% isopropyl alcohol the requirements are Safety glasses, lab coat, dust respirator and gloves loves (impervious).


The requirements for KOH appear to be similar.


I am new to all of this so please excuse my naiveté. In all my years I have never seen any entomologist working with dissections, even in federal institutions, wear protective gloves (not sure how that will work with handing forceps, micro scissors etc), eyeglasses, protective clothing etc. This being the case it would appear that the regulations are being ignored (which I would presume to be unlikely) or there is some kind of caveat about the use of these and similar chemicals when working with small amounts in this context. I would be very grateful if someone working in an OSHA compliant institution can explain how it is possible for researchers to dissect and examine preserved material without having to go to the lengths indicated on the MSDS sheets.


Thanks in advance,


John Grehan 


Dr. John R. Grehan
Director of Science and Research
Buffalo Museum of Science
1020 Humboldt Parkway
Buffalo, NY 14211-1193

email: jgrehan at sciencebuff.org
Phone: (716) 896-5200 ext 372
Fax: (716) 897-6723


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