Possible Negative Impact on One's Health

Jobs in surroundings as varied as comfortable offices, research laboratories, or oil rigs can produce distinct health hazards. When applying for a science job, it is important to consider the possible health hazards of the work, the safety precautions the employer takes, and the flexibility of the employer when it comes to the employees' concerns about the work environment.

Computer scientists normally work in offices in comfortable surroundings. However, like many workers who spend long hours in front of a computer typing on a keyboard, computer scientists are susceptible to such hazards as eyestrain, back pain, and hand problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Many of these problems can be avoided or reversed by using ergonomic chairs and keyboards.

While both laboratories and plants that conduct work with dangerous chemicals must conform to government safety standards, accidents can happen. Some hazards of laboratory, factory, and field settings are described below.

Possible Negative Impact on One's Health

Biologists working with infectious agents can be at risk, especially since much health-related research focuses on investigating infectious diseases. Some work is also conducted with animals that may be carriers of infections. Additionally, some scientists work with radioactive materials. While procedures are in place to minimize exposure, some radiation exposure does occur, possibly increasing chances of diseases such as cancer. Finally, work with dangerous chemicals is also tightly regulated. However, routine experiments with toxic agents can, over time, cause liver damage.

Scientists working in the field are exposed to a different set of hazards. Scientists working with animals in their natural habitats or on farms are always at risk of animal bites or of infectious disease. Science jobs on oil rigs or on ships at sea can be dangerous because of dangers inherent to working at sea. Those working in agricultural science jobs can, on the other hand, be exposed to hazardous chemicals such as fertilizers or pesticides. In addition, work with explosive chemicals, whether in laboratories or on oil rigs, always carries some risk of explosions, although such risks are minimal.

Scientists working in chemical and electronics plants are constantly exposed to hazardous chemicals. Proper ventilation, protective clothing, and following safety procedures is usually sufficient to avoid health hazards, but long-term exposure can still significantly impact one's health.

Overall, while numerous industry and federal standards are in place to protect scientists from hazardous working conditions, science jobs can carry an inherent health risk. Knowing about such risks is an important part of deciding on a career in science.