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The Prep Lab sounds very much like a dentist office. Then again, many of us are using dental tools (picks, saws, drills). The constant whirring can be deafening though and if you're using an air tool the vibration can get in your hands so that they tingle long after the day is over.

The work is in your head too. I close my eyes and see a toothbrush moving over rock vigorously or a chisel in my hand while I labor over a slab of rock in the dry Wyoming heat. I have to remind myself not to pinch the tools so hard or my hands will swell up again. Carlos, my fellow volunteer, feels his finger is nearly broken from missing the chisel so many times.

I feel this is a good time to mention safety precautions:

In the Prep Lab
  • When working with air tools, wear goggles as chips and dust while always hit your face and eyes.
  • If in close quarters with air tools, wear a mask or you will inhale those chips and dust.
  • If using the abrasive air blaster, wear gloves (unless you're a manly man) or feel the sting of high pressured baking soda.
  • Prop up your fossil and arm so that they are level with socks and bits of jeans filled with sand.
  • Check that your grip is loose every five minutes.
  • When the whirring starts to hurt and you cannot carry a conversation with the person next to you, put in ear plugs or ear muffs or headphones and crank up your music.
  • Put all electronics away, hidden deep in your pockets or in sealed baggies or outside the lab, as it will get covered in dust and ruined.
  • The same goes for clothes, jewelry, anything nice.

007.JPGPrep Lab Safety tools

In the Field
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Take breaks.
  • Use the bathroom before you leave as the only thing is a scary port-a-potty that feels like it will be blown away or attacked by a rockslide while you're in it.
  • Wear and bring extra sunscreen.
  • Use chapstick or suffer cracked lips that your girlfriend will not kiss.
  • Wear boots, rocks and tools will always be dropped and the wildlife cannot be trusted to not eat you.
  • Bring extra water and a first aid kit.
  • Watch your mouth as tours with little children are given regularly and occur right above your head.
  • Do not freak out when going up or down the mountain even though there are no guard rails and you are sure the driver is going to fast.
  • You will not find that wild turkey on the opposite hillside no matter how many times it gobbles. Let it go and get back to work.

086.JPGField Work Safety - Water, shade, glue

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