A summary of the articles in this issue of the Digger. Click the Headline to view the full story.
The campaigning group Diggers' Forum has issued a stark challenge to those in charge of the industry. !..
You wait for one conference and three come along at once!.. >read full article<
Scarlett Johansson, the new USD4 million face of cosmetics company L'Oreal, is the latest celebrity who longs to be an archaeologist. ...
Once more the digging season approaches and thoughts turn to chemical toilets, sunburn and insect bites. Field archaeology is a hazardous environment but do we give enough thought to the issues, both large and small, that might affect our working lives? Firstly, do we consider an archaeological dig to be a workplace activity?
Because if we do then the full weight of The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 comes to bear. Given that archaeologists, whether amatuer or professional, are 'employed' in a work activity then a dig is a workplace. Employment does not necessarily have to involve the transfer of cash from one party to another; voluntary labour counts too.
So, what are the likely issues relating to safety that we face in field archaeology? Many are obvious, some less so. There is the stress from working in a crypt and the dangers associated with exhumation of a Roman lead coffin for example at Spitalfields, London, where lead oxidation would be a major concern.
We each have a duty to ensure that we do not 'by our act or omissions' affect the health and safety of another individual. Equally our employers have that same obligation; which sad to report some still fail to observe. I did overhear a site manager say that 'if they don't like it they can go elsewhere and work', which is not the most positive comment.
Thankfully that attitude is diminishing, but remember in years to come when you are the site manager and the budget is tight that safety is not about finance. It is about long term commitment to a standard of service to an underpaid profession. Let's start with Risk Assessment, the basis on which any work activity should be carried out. If risk has not been assessed how can the safety requirements be identified and therefore how can a digger reasonably expect that the activity is 'safe'?
Where five or more persons are working the assessment must be a written document. The assessment should identify the hazards, provide mitigation against the risks and identify the likelihood of an event occurring. It needs to be carried out by a competent person and should provide a readily identifiable method statement that does not drown everyone in paperwork. The result may be a simple checksheet or flowchart so long as it is relevant.
Remember the old adage 'Keep it simple' KISS!
Competency is in terms of safety and not archaeology.
I do not know of too many archaeologists who have NEBOSH (National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health) qualifications in risk management. [The author Keith Askey is a health and safety consultant].
Do you have a H&S question for Keith to answer? Write in and let him know!
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