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The Darkside, Management, Curators and Site worker
#1
As its Friday evening and I’m still working here is something a bit controversial.

It seems to me that the four sides of archaeology:- consultants (the darkside), curators, contractor’s management, and site workers are constantly bickering, critical of the others and always blaming them when things go wrong.

The thread on machining contained some rare honesty about a common situation – a bad machine driver. Anybody who has done a lot of machine watching will know there are good and bad drivers from our point of view. Machine drivers can turn around and say this is a load of XXXXXX rubbish and dig out a load of archaeological remains.

The worst case I know resulted in a digger having her legs broken in several places. (All H&S procedures followed, the driver was simply incompetent and was prosecuted).

Would we not do better as an industry to accept that we don’t live in a perfect world identify the issues and seek as an industry to solve them. The problem of bad machine drivers can be solved by having archaeologists drive the machines themselves for example.

Surely what we need to know is, are these things isolated incidents, pragmatic responses to particular situations, common place or industry wide practices.

Peter Wardle
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#2
Now that is a cracking idea...

A new category of archaeologist... the JCB driver... a real, skill... a real job.... and worth every penny.

Another day another WSI?
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#3
Archs getting machine tickets has been suggested at my company, and has met with an enthusiastic response from the archs. One of the hurdles to overcome though is new-ish driver ticket regulations that(I've not seen them myself) apparently require a certain number of hours per year to maintain the ticket. Machine drivers find it hard to maintain a ticket for both a JCB and a 360 for example, so one wonders if an archaeologist could get enough hours on one machine, while doing the rest of the multitude of things the job entails. The answer for the machine drivers seems to be they fudge it, because the regulation is not strongly enforced, but that is not a solution I'd feel particularly comfortable with.
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#4
I think that a well-intentioned but inexperienced archaeologist is potentially going to cause more damage to archaeology than a sympathetic and highly experienced non-archaeologist, when at the helm of a JCB or 360.

I have known a number of very good machine operators who can remove layers in 'spits' of 1cm at a time. Where possible I prefer to engage specific firms and ask for specific drivers that I know to be good. At our level it is more cost-effective than hiring a machine without driver and paying for training and (as Mercenary points out) upkeep of hours. In a large unit however it might be worth having a machine driver as a full-time staff member.

In which case would it be better to get an experienced and sympathetic driver and send them on a few archaeology courses, or get an archaeologist and send them on a few digger driving courses?
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#5
Some extremely important truths in there Dr Peter!
I have found that drivers(inexperienced or otherwise) will perform in a far more effective way when they have been briefed prior to breaking ground.An endemic problem in commercial archaeology at least is twofold:
It is rarer than hens teeth for field archaeologists to be taken through the site/phase method statement and or project design prior to breaking ground.An informed team of fieldies is always far more efficient and engaged.Why have one archaeologist and 30 labourers digging a site when you could have 30 archaeologists engaged and informed? Digger drivers at best-turn up, start engine and are told nothing more than to follow the archaeologist.Its simple-take the time to engage with the driver, explain what it is you do, what you are looking for.This has done the trick on many occasions and to make a bigger point-they`re Human too.Site archies are used to being treated like cheap labour, digger drivers are`nt.In the end, the drivers had a good grasp and made extra efforts to maintain a consistant standard simply because we treated them with enough respect to have briefed them.One could obviously say the same for inexperienced archies watching machines.There is not enough briefing of staff prior to breaking ground across the board.A site tour is a rare thing in itself and is by no means enough.A site staffed by archaeologists who have`nt read method statements/project designs is a site excavated using only 10% of its most valuable resources-field archies.In a similar vein, you will always get more from staff of other industries if your own are well informed and engage with them.

..knowledge without action is insanity and action without knowledge is vanity..(imam ghazali,ayyuhal-walad)
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#6
I do not want to get bogged down in the example I quote about machine driving - what I am saying is surely we as industry need to identify the difficulties and do something about them.

In the case of archaeologists driving machines - there is a strong tradition of private sector archaeologists doing this starting with Dr Pryor. Driving a 360 excavator to mm accuracy is easy - when I was a proper archaeologist I used to do all my own machining when allowed.

The better units have a 360 excavator on site for just moving bits of muck about driven by the archaeologists. (Hi BUFAU)

The current regulations require a high degree of driving skills to cover all the situations that a driver will be hired in for. I have not been able to find much info on the net about the current requirement other than that 300 hours per 5 years is needed.

I thus suggest that what is needed is:

a brief summary of the regulations
discussion of people experiences
a consensus decision from all the elements.

Peter
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#7
From Troll:
Quote:quote:There is not enough briefing of staff prior to breaking ground across the board.A site tour is a rare thing in itself and is by no means enough.A site staffed by archaeologists who have`nt read method statements/project designs is a site excavated using only 10% of its most valuable resources-field archies.In a similar vein, you will always get more from staff of other industries if your own are well informed and engage with them.
I would like to add my unqualified support for everything said by Troll in the long post from which this sample was taken. Briefing site staff and keeping them up to date is generally very poor in British archaeology.

On Dr Peter Wardle's points, though, I would be very worried about field archaeologists driving machines. I find it difficult to believe that an archaeologist who is an occasional machine driver could be either as skilful or as safe as a full-time professional.

I think the real solution is for unit management/field officers to be more willing to take a strong line with machine drivers and to reject drivers who don't cooperate, or whose skills are not up to the standard needed. It shouldn't fall on individual diggers or supervisors, as in the other thread mentioned by Dr Pete.

1man1desk

to let, fully furnished
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#8
I man and his desk said....

"I find it difficult to believe that an archaeologist who is an occasional machine driver could be either as skilful or as safe as a full-time professional."

Are you suggesting that Dr Pryor OBE, myself, or a project manager from BUFAU are incompetent machine drivers thus breaking the AUP policy and IFA codes of conduct?

Of the three (there are others) I am the least qualified and the least experience and certainty would not jump into a machine without a refresher course and the required licence.

By definition a machine driver is not a professional - that is they have to belong (ie it is complusory to practice) to a self regulating body by law.

The reality of the situation is that it the person telling the machine driver exactly what to do is the person who needs to be assertive and must be backed up by management.

I am tempted to break the AUP....


Dr Peter

(can anybody direct me to the regulation about the number of hours needed to maintain the certificate of competence for a particular machine)






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#9
Dr Peter Wardle said:
Quote:quote:Are you suggesting that Dr Pryor OBE, myself, or a project manager from BUFAU are incompetent machine drivers thus breaking the AUP policy and IFA codes of conduct?
I was making a general point, not a personal one, and I have no knowledge of any of your skills in machine driving - although I don't see how Dr Pryor's OBE or someone else's PM status are relevant to machine driving.
However, the point stands. Someone who does a skilled and potentially dangerous job every day is far more likely to be skilled (and safe) at doing it than someone who does it on an occasional basis and whose main skills lie elswehere.
I would therefore always insist, on both archaeological and H&S grounds, that the machine is driven by a full-time machine driver. However, I would also insist that if the driver won't cooperate with the supervising archaeologist, or doesn't do a competent job, the archaeologist can have them removed and replaced.

1man1desk

to let, fully furnished
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#10
For what it is worth, I agree with 1man on this specific issue of machining. Which is the point I made in an earlier post on this thread...

Quote:quote:I think that a well-intentioned but inexperienced archaeologist is potentially going to cause more damage to archaeology than a sympathetic and highly experienced non-archaeologist, when at the helm of a JCB or 360.

I am not sure about Francis Pryor and his OBE. According to the CBA website, he has an MBE. However this is not the point, since (I presume) he did not get an MBE for machine driving.

I think you will find that Stuart Piggott (who had a CBE) was the first archaeologist to use a machine on site, during his excavation at Thickthorn Down in the 1930s.

I think we probably need more information on the complexities of the British honours system, but meanwhile some information about hours requirements for machine operators is available on this page of the CITB website.




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