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Health and Archaeology
#21
Actually the biggest threats to health and safety on site that I've encountered in the past year have been caused by over the top health and safety rules imposed by a major rail infrastructure company.

This included wearing goggles at all times ( even in heavy rain when you couldn't see your hand in front of your face ), wearing thick flame retardant boiler suit and harness in 32 degree heat and not being allowed drinking water in the trench, again in 32 degree heat whilst wearing said boiler suit and harness. The same company was fine about us working right next to a live open sewer though, as apparently this posed no threat to health whatsoever.
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#22
Yup, have one of those flame-retardant boiler suits right here - good for machine-watching in a blizzard though...

On the last motorway scheme we did, the solution to people coming down with heat-stroke was to replace the long-sleeved hazard vests (which at least opened down the front for a bit of air-flow) with high-viz sweatshirts...errrr....

Where's Jack when you need him, he's been compiling a list for years of accidents caused by PPE - I know of several cases over the years that have required hospital treatment, including a slipped disk and a smashed cheekbone, caused directly by pointless PPE. Safety glasses have been the cause of numerous accidents, usually cos they're covered inside and out in dust, plus they distort distance-perception (if your machine-driver is being forced to wear them stand well back and be nice to him/her when he takes off a foot rather than the asked-for inch)
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#23
There must be a way to fight this ridiculousness? The laudable aims of Elfin Safety is to protect us all from injury, AND to make our working life as stress-free as possible. The moment the implemented policy increases stress or increases the likelihood of ill-health or injury, it is, by definition, breaking the law. But you're in the bizarre situation where company H&S policy becomes law, which is a bit of a paradox. My argument is that of competence - it is one of the central tenets of H&S law, so any policy that appears to make life at work worse has been developed by someone without suitable competency. How you'd go about pursuing that and keep your job I don't know though...

Sorry, it's riled me for years, the way the law is abused by the stupid. Sad!
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#24
Tool Wrote:There must be a way to fight this ridiculousness? ...Sorry, it's riled me for years, the way the law is abused by the stupid. Sad!
There is a way out of this. Every task could be/should be subject to an individual risk assessment rather than relying on generic untested statements of intent. In Dino's example, if safety goggles make a machine driver 'blind' that strikes me as a risk that a risk assessment would highlight and take steps to eliminate. What archaeologists need to do is to make sure that our saftey policy of assessing the need for PPE on a task by task basis is implemented as a site wide policy when we share sites/facilities with contractors etc. This is ALL contained within existing H&S legislation. We need to make sure the WHOLE act is implemented and not just the bits that keep jobsworth H&S officers happy....
With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...
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#25
If we don't comply with the main contractor's H&S (like wearing pointless PPE) on e.g. the current motorway scheme we're doing, we're instantly off the job, no appeal. Construction industry H&S has absolutely nothing to do with H&S Exec policy (which merely says that appropriate PPE should be used for the task immediately at hand) or law, it's a whole parallel universe. Latest one is apparently no wearing of wooly hats in cold weather, ignoring the fact that cold people aren't paying attention and far have more accidents...weirdly we can wear wellies but not riggers - the usual lack of ankle support b***ocks for riggers but apparently wellies do the job, clearly dry feet are more important than a broken ankle....
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#26
Dinosaur Wrote:If we don't comply with the main contractor's H&S (like wearing pointless PPE) on e.g. the current motorway scheme we're doing, we're instantly off the job, no appeal. Construction industry H&S has absolutely nothing to do with H&S Exec policy (which merely says that appropriate PPE should be used for the task immediately at hand) or law, it's a whole parallel universe.

Are our illustrious leaders at the IFA doing anything about this? Seems archaeologists are compelled to follow unsuitable (illegal?) Construction industry H and S policy or loose out on work. Kevin is right the law is quite clear, individual risk assessments must be applied rather than generic rules that cannot cover the wide variation in circumstances. Has any commercial archaeology company stood up to the main contractor over this ? Or are they all too scared or ignorant of the law?
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#27
I don't think archaeology contractors can afford to directly rock the boat in the current climate. It's something that needs to be addressed away from site and at a higher level I think. And it's construction workers who suffer too, don't forget. The trouble is you're up against the combined power of the legal and money bods from all the massive construction companies, so unless there is a specific legal challenge that can be mounted - and who would want to risk that? - I can't see what can be done. And no, I'm not convinced there is the knowledge of the H&S law within archaeology such as exists within construction.
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#28
The construction industry appears to have made most of the 'law' up themselves as a massive financial rod for the their own backs (no wonder the British construction industry's the most expensive in the world, quite apart from all the other incompetence I've witnessed over the years), most archaeological H&S that I've come across is closer to the actual letter of the law. The sad thing is that most construction guys don't realise that it is mostly made up. Needing a ticket to operate a stapler (or a tracked excavator for that matter - any member of Joe/Jane public can hire one from a big garden centre) is something the construction industry have made up, it has no legal basis whatsoever, the operator merely needs to be deemed to be competent. On a job a while back where we were operating under our own H&S, a guy from National Grid was quite happy for me to use a 4-tonne excavator to strip under a couple of live supergrid pylons without a ticket, he merely wanted to watch for 5 minutes to assure himself I was competent to operate the machine safely [probably have a thousand hours or so, no accidents yet] and following the Risk Assessment to the letter (chained boom etc) - not a circumstance where we were likely to cut corners though...!

The sheer amount of H&S paperwork's getting ridiculous too, was out doing some GI monitoring before Xmas and we had to fill out and sign a permit-to-dig for every hole - ridiculous! Wonder how much it costs to type all that up back at their offices (and it does all get typed up)...but that's ok, its only taxpayers money... :face-crying:


Oh, HAPPY NEW YEAR to one and all. With the economic upturn hope you all get plenty of work and with any luck the odd pay-rise and decent site toilets :face-approve:
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#29
It's a mad and maddening situation. I've ranted at many an H&S bod during my years in the building, but it never ever makes a difference. The power of the policy-makers is too great.

And yes, in amongst all this grumpiness, happy new year to you all. Here's to a good 'un.
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#30
Wax Wrote:. Has any commercial archaeology company stood up to the main contractor over this ?

I doubt it.

I know supervisors who have complained about absurd Health and safety issues to management only to have their concerns completely ignored, but I've never heard of a Archaeological company telling a contractor where to go over it. If all Archaeological units stood together on the issue then construction companies would have no choice but to let us decide on what necessary health and safety measures / PPE are to implemented, which as has been pointed out is how it should be. Endless form filling, pointless ( and potentially dangerous ) PPE and site inductions that last all day would be a thing of the past.
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