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Health and Safety in Archaeology
I know this topic has been discused numerous times but why is archaeology so shocking with its attitude to H&S? I have recently undertaken a comprehensive CITB SMSTS (Site Management Safety Training Scheme)course and it was drilled into me that if anything happens on site like an serious accident or exposure to hazards and heaven forbid a fatality (it has to happen one day) and the management are aware of it, it could be a nice ?20,000 fine per offence and there are many, or even a stint at Her Majesties pleasure. This could and would include the site supervisor (something to be aware of when sending inexperienced staff to supervise a job to save money, very common that anyone agree?).

How many times have we all been given the site risk assesment and just signed it without thinking who complied it and what H&S experience they may or may not have, and the best ones are the generic ones that dont change from site to site. Its incredible that RAs can be written in the office without visiting the site, imagine a savvy lawyer having a look at that after an unfortunate incident occured, oh dear.

We have all worked on the large urban sites where contamination has been present and not really understood what the complications are when exposed to this material. Imagine the large amount of asbestos present in old buildings and how many times have you picked pieces up and thrown it to the side on the expert advice of the site manager!! Its very worrying to think about the levels of asbestos we have been exposed too (Urban cellars of demolished buildings will be full of asbestos, was i told, no).

I am not saying all units are the same, some are very good and some are very very bad (you know who you are) but i think it will take something bad to wake the profession up to their H&S responsiblities.
I am not sure what point you are trying to make Blacktusk or how much you know about H&S despite having been on a H&S training scheme.

I would just like to make a few simple points.

1. H&S is taken very seriously in archaeology there few reportable accidents and fatalities are thankfully even rarer.

2. "Urban cellars of demolished buildings will be full of asbestos, was i told, no". I would disagree with this. An abestos survey is a usual preliminary. Removal before before any demolition is the norm.

3. There are a set procedure to be follow if you are unhappy about any aspect of H&S. These should be followed.


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