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do I have muppet written on my forehead?
Let us squabble not as this is a serious issue that effects us all. And I wish not to deviate from this topic string.Smile
OK, I'm gonna jump right into the lions den here.
I've just read this thread 3 times and the same thing comes into my head every time.


Everyone who has posted on this thread knows that the people you are working for legally have to exercise their duty of care.
From what I've seen, you know where to get hold of the information and legislation.
There is a requirement on the part of the developer / property owner to ensure a watching brief takes place if development is to take place on these sites you work on.
This puts the requirement on them to look after you.

I am a realist and can see that sometimes, to achieve what is required, rules have to be bent.
This does not mean they should be forgotten / ignored to the extent where peoples health and lives are at risk.

One thing the Bush Child has done with our taxes is supplied shed loads of information on all the .gov websites. (2-jags site) has all the building regs. listed. lists employment legislation

Help me to understand why you put up with these poor working conditions and treatment.
I've just read through the whole of this thread and some of the incidents/conditions described sound like prosecutable offences that should have been reported (by the employee) to the HSE.

As a consultant I see very clearly that H&S practice among archaeologists is way behind that amongst, for instance, construction contractors (one of our key client groups). There is no excuse for failure to properly assess risks (including things like contamination), failure to provide PPE or proper welfare facilities, failure to operate safely, etc; in fact, most of these things can be criminal offences.

On the other hand, H&S is a two-way street, and site staff also have responsibilities for themselves and each other. We try hard to build good H&S practice into contract conditions etc. when putting work out to tender. However, we often find that supervisors/project officers on site are reluctant to enforce the rules against resistance by the staff. I wish I had a ? for every time I have walked towards a trench, only to see the diggers in it hastily putting on their flashy jackets and hard hats when they spot me. Other times, I have asked people directly to put on helmets because and got the equivalent of "awww, do I have to?", which is too childish for words.

In relation to helmets that fall off, they can all take chin straps you know.

I wear my helmet when I need to, and I leave it off when I don't. Same with flash vests. If there are machines on site, I wear the stuff. I don't fancy becoming a blob. If I'm digging alone or with someone else, on a site with nothing above me and no machines, of course I won't bother with a hard hat. More like a sun hat. similarly, if you wear a yellow vest in summer for no reason, you will find yourself surrounded by wasps. Put that in your risk assessment.

Wear the gear when it will actually make you safer, but just because you see people taking off their hats don't assume that they have no interest in their own safety.

First, please accept my thanx everyone, this is the most important issue there is and, I really appreciate the gravity you guys are treating it with. Glaxsea, sadly, field archaeologists are for the most part, temporary/casual and itinerant workers. There are thousands of new graduates every year bursting to work for these units. As such, there is a huge pool of workers (experienced or otherwise) available to contractual units. Time and time again, a field operative with donkies years of experience surviving on one short contract to the next, can be fired for moaning and replaced tenfold the day after. The simple answer is this-seen as a whistleblower, your careers over. The sh*ite commercial units know it too and take the p*ss consistantly. I find this to be a disgusting and filthy environment but, for the mass of us-is reality. For my part, neglect HS at your peril.Not only will I take it extremely personally but, I will have the offending unit on the front page of every newspaper in the UK within 12 hours. Thats before I inform BAJR and the HSE.Then, my freinds, Troll will allow himself to get the right arsehole. So sack me, I only work for grown ups and professionals. That`s better, needed that....In short, offending units know that they can do what they like within a commercial environment where field archaeologists do not enjoy the security of work contracts enjoyed by full-time staff elsewhere in the archaeological industry. Penfold, Good to hear from you sir-think you may have just identified your specialism there mate...... Big Grinas an aside, the HSE will only prosecute where they feel that they will have a reasonable chance of success in prosecution as litigation costs money.....

Well, for me the answer is complex, but at least a part of it the fear of becoming blacklisted. I'm not too worried about being sacked these days, but I'm sure as **** not goin' to get any more decent projects if I blow the whistle on H&S issues. Never ending watching brief duty is the likely result.

For most of the nightmare projects mentioned in my last post contamination was the main issue, not the comedy debate about Hi-Vi's and hats when machines aren't near. (Even cowboy Units provide that stuff to pretend they care about H&S)

When I expressed serious concern about contaminants I was either fobbed off and told that the study had been done, but that there were no contaminants to worry about, or I was shown a useless study designed for builders who were not going to go near the soil, let alone stew themselves in it for a few weeks. Without knowing 100% that I'm at risk when the grown ups say I'm not, it's a huge gamble to dig my heels in and refuse to work. Almost every site I do, or have done with past employers, I could make a stand on some H&S issue, but I've got to pick my battles. I've lost count of the number of times I've seen what I think is asbestos only to be told "There is NO ASBESTOS ON THIS SITE!" I have stopped work in a dangerous situation on a site which I was running, and would do so again, but I got a load of passive agressive punishment from my employer for doing so.

I fully agree that H&S is everyones responsibility, but most archaeologists are forced to be pragmatic about it. The debate is not ignore H&S issues and DIE! or blow the whistle and be sacked! There are many shades of grey between, and I for one struggle with the balancing act. Once again digging archaeologists who bear the brunt of ineffectual monitoring, inadequate H&S provision, inadequate knowledge, inadequate protective legislation are being asked to carry the can. Bollocks!
Yeah, well said! I think you've hit the nail right on the head Merc!
It is a balancing act, and although I'm fairly sure that even the people I work for are not stupid enough to sack you over a H&S issue, I bet I would have either no work offered to me or I'd get the ****ty end of the stick everytime afterwards!!

Dear all,

Re Health and Safety I think it might help to set out the IFA view. Very simply, it's very important. If IFA members or Registered Organisations are responsible for the sort of practices described, then let the IFA know - but we do need details or otherwise there is nothing we can investigate. If these sorts of activities are being committed by non-IFA members or organisations there is nothing we can do directly, as they have chosen not to comply with the code of conduct and not to be subject to any complaints or disciplinary procedure. But they are not above the law. If you can't sort the problem out via a line management or trade union route, you have have the right - and arguably the duty - to report it to the HSE. And as an employee you could and should see the company H&S policy statement, risk assessment etc.

There is no excuse for this sort of H&S practice. Employers have a legal duty to comply with the law and lots of guidance - including the SCAUM manual, which provides an excellent summary of responsibilities. Send in the details, please, if the IFA can investigate. Your identity can be kept secret if you ask us to, but it's even better if you're prepared to identify yourself as someone who cares and isn't going to put up with bad practice.

Peter Hinton, IFA
I was unable to leave Troll's recent muttering regarding Unit H&S alone; if these issues had bothered Troll, why did he not raise them with the "grown ups" at the time rather than bitch on a website after the fact. The staff i work with welcome comments and I ensure all staff working under me are aware of H&S and I encourage them to take an interest in site H&S, the last thing I would expect is for one of my collegues to log on and complain when there was ample opportunity to comment on site.

I am also forced to question the validity of some of Troll's facts; a ten metre deep excavation on site, does he realise how deep ten metres is, I'm not doubting the excavation was deep, but seriously doubt whether any contractor would excavate a ten metre deep trench! I too have excavated sites containing ordnance and know for a fact that NO army bomb disposal bloke would hit a bomb with a shovel, I find the statement lacking any credibility!

So Troll, if you've got ligitimate H&S concerns, raise them with the "grown ups", don't go bitching anonymously on a website. Become part of the solution, not part of the problem!
Which is why .... as Peter says .... any allegation must be backed up with substance... details, letters, decent photos.. etc

If you are down a ten metre hole and you have corroboration, photos etc.... (even a quick report to BAJR Hotline but better still the HSE..... ) then the IFA can actually do something.

This website (BAJR) is part of teh solution, as it brings out these allegtations, and consequesntly a structured response.

thanks for chipping in G.

Another day another WSI?

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