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Laboratory Safety in Morris Water Maze

Safety-awareness is vital in "water maze" as in all lab work. Please consult your institutional safety officer before setting-up and using your water maze system. HVS is not a safety adviser,  but we do care about your safety, and we point out three aspects for special attention:

1) When fixing and adjusting the overhead camera, absolutely do not climb on furniture. Each year over 600 people die in the US from falls from furniture, chairs desks etc. If your safety officer approves, use a properly secured ladder.

2) Water conducts electricity and if you are using a galvanized steel tank that will be even more highly conductive. Nearly 300 people are killed in the US each year through electrocution. Your electricians
may want to earth-connect the pool - please show them the set-up before you apply power. For safety reasons HVS recommend that you are not in electrical contact with a computer (or anything else) when you put your animals into the water maze pool. To do this we recommend that you use a wireless radio mouse to actuate and end trials. Most laptops use switched mode power supplies. Although better than a desktop with these are not isolating transformers and therefore are not electrically isolated from the mains.

3) Working Alone in the Laboratory. There are special, greater potential hazards and risks associated with laboratory personnel working alone in a wet lab.  The risk of injury is increased and so is the risk of the seriousness of the injury.  This is coupled with the fact that the injured person may not be able to contact help in the event of an accident.  To our knowledge while potentially very serious no incidents have occurred at any universities with Morris Water maze but they have in other research laboratory environments[1,2]. You should consult your safety officer or Laboratory Safety Committee (LSC) about "lone working", bearing in mind that you will be working around and partly over a pool of water.

Figures from National Center for Health Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau


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