Preparation Lab Policies
The Field Museum's preparation labs are home to many fossil specimens in various states of condition. These are important research materials, and knowledge of these fossils and how they are to be handled and prepared is crucial. The labs are staffed by very experienced preparators, well-versed in all aspects of preparation, molding and casting. There are also students and volunteers who work in the labs, but they must demonstrate hand-eye coordination, manual dexterity, consistency and commitment.
The labs use chemicals, materials and equipment that may be hazardous if used improperly. Each lab has a folder which contains the MSDS (Materials Safety Data Sheet) for each chemical and compound used in the lab. Flammable items are stored in a vented Flammables Cabinet. All chemicals are clearly labeled. In addition, all personnel are properly trained in the use of power tools and appropriate safety gear (goggles, gloves, hearing protection, respirator masks with particulate and organic cartridges). Discarded chemical waste is disposed of properly, in accordance with OSHA standards.
All prep lab personnel are assigned their own specific projects. They must follow staff instructions and guidance; and they are responsible for the careful preparation, handling, record-keeping and proper storage and labeling of the specimens. Proper tool maintenance, cleaning of work stations and general lab cleanliness are also undertaken by all lab personnel.
People who want to become prep volunteers should first contact the chief preparator. An interview and a fossil prep test will then be scheduled. If an applicant has passed the prep test, an application will be processed by Human Resources and a background check is run. Once a week for one year is the minimal required commitment to fulfill.
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