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do I have muppet written on my forehead?
#31
The problems outlined by Troll appear to fall into the category of what some H&S policy documents define as 'Unsafe Situations'.

There should be a means for anyone to report an Unsafe Situation and to have it investigated. I have sometimes seen the Site Accident Book used to report such incidents, although there ought to be a more appropriate means and staff should be made aware of the responsible person during H&S briefings.

Regarding keeping quiet about Unsafe Situations. Under the current H&S and employment laws it may be possible for an employer to take disciplinary action against an employee who fails to report an Unsafe Situation and could result in dismissal. To that end keeping quiet could be as threatening to your job prospects as becoming a whistle blower.



#32
I think some collection of data is required. How widespread are these practices being referred to? Is it one or two companies, most of them or all of them. I seem to recall that serious incidents have to be reported to the HSE - those that involve injury. David BAJR/Peter IFA surely one of you could check with HSE on what the level of incidents actually are.

From my own discussions with HSE one of the problems we have as such a small industry the instances of death are very few and far between (thankfully) and thus serious problems may not have been identified as a major problem because they occur in very small number.

The SCAUM manual was drwn up with the HSE surely there must have been some assessment of current practices at the time. Similarly surely this manual should be revised or amended.

If one or two units are involved action via the IFA is appropriate, if somethings are industry wide then the HSE must be involved to ensure change.

Peter
#33
It`s amazing that this topic pops up on a regular basis regarding H&S within archaeology. What makes me laugh...and cry with frustration is that the well known company i work for has a senior member of staff responsible for H&S. This person has no training in any H&S whatsoever and most of the jobs i have worked on for this person have resulted in breaches of H&S (where the hell do i stand, i cannot tell the senior managers my concerns as this person is golden balls to them). Imagine if a serious accident occures, even a death which is almost inevitable, then:face-confused: the HSE would throw the book at the unit. Maybe, and i hate saying it, it would take a serious accident to occur for things to change. I love my job, the people i meet, the experiences that i have gained...but when a senior manager tells me that a site is free from contaminates (even though the geotech guys are wearing chemical suits and masks, and then a strong chemical smell comes from the trench..."errr" he said "stand up wind".


#34
Quote:quote: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!

It seems that Troll is being blamed for my rant on this one, and while he's not even here to defend himself. I will therefore defend us both.

Sadly Gerwyn, this anecdote is absolutely true and I will be happy to provide details. The reason I included it was to show that a variety of crazy things happen that a risk assessment may not have covered. I suspect that the MOD bomb guy made a visual assessment of the object and decided that it posed no threat. Why he then hit it with a shovel is anyones guess, perhaps to scare the archaeologists.

On that particular site a full risk assessment was done and as far as I could tell all H&S rules were followed. We had to because it was a nationally inportant research project done by an organization that has to be seen to be following the rules. The problem however was that the project was so unusual, that short of refusing to work on the site at the beginning, we had to deal with some H&S issues as and when they arose. As one of the people running the site I hope that we did it sensibly, although I did (rightly)come in for some criticism from the excavators for this incident.

I will reiterate my comment in my previous post, as Gerwyn clearly missed it. We as archaeologist have to be pragmatic and judge H&S issues as we see them, often without all the necessary information. We cannot down tools and await a solution every time a potential danger is identified. As for the assumption that we say nothing on site and then bitch on a website after the fact. RE-READ the posts! Both Troll's and my posts include examples of our actions to address the issues at the time. These are not black and white issues, that are easy to pin down. Lies and evasions or general crapness by developers or employers usually muddy the water enough to leave the humble archaeologist completely powerless. I know all too well that unless you have conclusive proof, you are pissing in the wind approaching the HSE, and nothing is conclusive regarding contamination risks. How unsafe the conditions actually were is never determined or only becomes apparent after the fact.

I simply listed some of the worst stories from my career to date, with the intention of demonstrating the kinds of risks we face. They are from a variety of places and employers, and not limited to the cowboy units either. I have no particular axes to grind about any of these incidents or employers. What actions could be taken by me were done so at the time. All I want is that proper risk assesments are done [u]before</u> a project, including proper contamination surveys, that are then shown to all site staff. I have yet to see this [u]ever</u> done, in 10 years and with 10 employers! So in answer to DrPete, it is very widespread.

I'm sick to death of the postings demanding that we prove that these incidents have happened. The burden of proof should be with employers that a site is as safe as it can be made! Sad
#35
Quote:quote:I'm sick to death of the postings demanding that we prove that these incidents have happened. The burden of proof should be with employers that a site is as safe as it can be made!

I agree merc... but without proof.. it is difficult to take action... you are right that teh burden should lie on teh employer.. but as I and Peter Hinton say.. we need proof to act at the moment

Another day another WSI?
#36
Thanks for that Mercenary,

I have no problem with people ranting about the unsafe situations they have been in or demanding basic adherence to H&S.

My experience over the last 10 years is very different for the record -

1 serious incident with a serious injury - I was uninjured but nearly killed. Us archaeologists were in the clear. A prosecution was brought by the police, not H&S who investigated the situation, and thrown out in court.

1 minor incident - operative sprayed with fluid from JCB - was he standing too close to the machine?

No reports of H&S issues reported to me by all the diggers on site.

One complaint by an operative - test pits being dug to depth which displayed there outdated understanding of H&S law and how to handle the situation.

H&S kit used by contractors - basic not sophisticated in general but some contractors like BUFAU stand out. (I assume I am allowed to make positive comments).

In comparison the previous ten years in some respects were better. When I worked for OAU - the safety officer stopped me starting work on a project, a key one, on an H&S issue, I raised the issue - he took action - the line managers were p***d off - the funding bodies were annoyed about the delay ....but that hazard was eliminated for a trivial cost to the overall project. (The work had to be done anyway and it had the advantage that the tree huggers didnot know what was happening).

Having worked at circa 10m depth with heavy metal contaminants with a near miss which could have resulted in a fatality things were not perfect in the bad old days of PPG 16.

What is needed is clear demonstrable statistics so that the relevant bodies can take strategic action if neccessary what is not needed is a witch hunt on things that are in fact standard practice. Over to you David BAJR and Peter IFA.

Peter

(BTW - I will be running a tender competition in the near future where H&S if a key factor. Some of us take take these things seriously!)
#37
[/quote]
All I want is that proper risk assesments are done [u]before</u> a project, including proper contamination surveys, that are then shown to all site staff. I have yet to see this [u]ever</u> done, in 10 years and with 10 employers!
[/quote]

An utterly reasonable request.

Surely the evidence (paperwork) of employers' risk assessments and contamination surveys (or lack of) will be available for the IFA or HSE to inspect along with all of the other project documentation? I don't mean a standard H&S policy, I mean the actual documents relating specifically to a project. There should be a standard procedure to request these documents. Maybe they should automatically be in the public domain.

Employers should really get site workers to sign the bottom of risk assessments to show that they have been shown them. This seems to me to be a simple way of protecting both parties.
#38
I couldnt stay out of this any longer. There are some really interesting points made on both viewpoints here. I agree that H+S is often neglected by archaeologists both at Project Management level and operatives in the field - Arrogance is the biggest single problem with Field Archaeology today. Field Operatives acting macho and boasting about near misses and moaning that they will get sacked if they complain etc etc

I have no experience of people being sacked for complaining and I have 15 years experience in field arcaheology - though I will accept that there must be unscrupulous units that may do this as Troll suggests.

I do have plenty of examples of people 'not having their contract renewed' - these are often the work shy/useless/troublemaker types who DO use H+S complaints as a means of avoiding work - this happens across the board in archaeology its the oldest trick in the book - and masks many occasions where H+S is breached. I have lost count of the amount of times 'someone' has raised a H+S issue whcih is at best pedantic at worst plainly incorrect. - the boy that cired wolf springs to mind - if you get my drift!

The problem is having people suitable qualified to make H+S judgements which comes to my main point. Most (not all and dont take offence if you arent in this group) Project Designers be it managers or curators - yes curators you put conditions on things and therefore you are a designer - have no professional qualification in civil engineering / H+S considerations -These people are products of the glory days of the 70's and 80's when it was jobs for the boys and no hard hats, sandle wearing on site and drinking cider on the spoil heaps at lunchtime

These are the people who need to get up to speed with qualifications and - how many of us have been on site when a curator comes out to monitor and says 'can you go a bit deeper' - you are immediately under pressure to do this to get the site signed off - BUT stand your ground if its unsafe dont do it! - If a curator ever says 'it looks ok to me' ask to see what process they 'mentally went through to make that judgement.

If they are prepared to back it up - then fine if they shirk away - do the same yourself. It is the responsibility of all - Field operative, Project manager and the curator to ensure that what is being done is practical and safe -the curators have to ok proposals and WSI from units and consultancies - if they ok it then they have a responsibility too - There are many good curators who have sent back WSI and Secs to me questioning the H+S elements - this I really like - Many would get all stuffy about people putting their noses in where they dont belong. For me it shows that that curator will only recommend sensible approaches and Specs to the client

This sort of joined up thinking has to be the only way forward

Stop moaning and enter into dialogue with all parties

sorry for the long rant
#39
Quote:quote:Originally posted by drpeterwardle

I seem to recall that serious incidents have to be reported to the HSE - those that involve injury. David BAJR/Peter IFA surely one of you could check with HSE on what the level of incidents actually are.

The SCAUM manual was drwn up with the HSE surely there must have been some assessment of current practices at the time. Similarly surely this manual should be revised or amended.

If one or two units are involved action via the IFA is appropriate, if somethings are industry wide then the HSE must be involved to ensure change.

Peter

I agree with the need to assess occurences but question how easy this would be. Serious incidents have to be reported following the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR). See http://www.riddor.gov.uk/

Now, I wonder how many project managers know of these regulations? How many know which type of accident/incident needs reporting? How many have not been reported? Truer figures will be hiding in project files, accident books, anecdotes etc. I also wonder if a few incidents will be recorded by HSE under the construction industry rather than the archaeological industry.

Re SCAUM manual - it has been updated and most medium and larger units have probably been sent these. Many are probably in the desk drawers of the Unit Managers Sad Go on, ask them}Smile




#40
The regulations about reporting injuries have not changed!

These regulations have in place since the good old days and should be known to everyone. If they are not been followed in archaeology then there is a very serious problem. The purpose of these regulations is the identification of risk.

If the SCAUM manual has been revised where is it available? It is something everybody in archaeology should have a copy of not just the unit managers.

Peter


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