Category:Health & Safety

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Health & Safety in Collection Care

The Health & Safety wiki pages are created and monitored by the members of the Health & Safety Network of the American Institute for Conservation (AIC).

Please note: Some of the information included on this wiki may be out of date, particularly with regard to toxicological data and regulatory standards. New information on safety issues is continually published; therefore, resources outside of AIC should be consulted for more specific information.

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Health & Safety Network

The Health & Safety Network provides educational and technical information to increase knowledge of safety hazards and general health issues related to the conservation profession. When thinking about health and safety, it is important to remember guidelines for people as well as collections.

If you would like to browse our publications, please choose from the links below:

AIC News Articles & Guides

Handouts & Brochures

Respirator Fit Testing


Have a question or concern about health and safety in your conservation work? Send it to the Network leadership at [email protected].

Getting Started

Looking for a general introduction to health and safety issues in conservation? Start here!

  • Health and Safety For Museum Professionals (Book) The American Institute for Conservation and the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC) joined forces on the ultimate reference book for museum professionals.
  • Smithsonian Institution Safety Manual (Online) A comprehensive manual for the development and implementation of an occupational safety and health, fire protection, and environmental compliance programs. Each chapter contains SI requirements and useful implementation tools (such as explanatory text and standardized forms).
  • Artist Beware: The Hazards in Working with All Art and Craft Materials and the Precautions Every Artist and Craftsperson Should Take (Book) A thorough and highly detailed examination of the hazards of working with art and craft materials, and of the precautions one should take to ensure good health and safety. The book provides full analyses of how gases, liquids, vapors, dusts, and fumes can harm the artist, and studies all aspects of safety in the studio, including the care, handling, and disposal of materials, the use of various kinds of protective equipment, and possible physical hazards
  • The Artist's Complete Health & Safety Guide (3rd Edition) (Book) Four exhaustive sections cover regulations and specific hazards, artists' raw materials, precautions for individual media, and reproductive risks to artists. Fully equipped with appendixes on sources, governmental agencies, and an annotated reference list, this vitally important volume is essential for any art collection.
  • Arts, Crafts & Theater Safety (ACTS) (Online) ACTS is a not-for-profit corporation that provides health, safety, industrial hygiene, technical services, and safety publications to the arts, crafts, museums, and theater communities. Back issues of the ACTS newsletter ACTS FACTS are freely available to AIC members.


The Health & Safety Network has compiled general resources into our Beginner's Guide to Health & Safety.

Need more help? Find a Health & Safety Professional

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for conservators refers to protective gear, garments or equipment used to protect the conservator from injury or exposure. PPE generally protects only the user and, therefore, should be used in conjunction with other health and safety measures to ensure a safe working environment.

Chemical Safety

Proper handling, storage and disposal of chemicals protects everyone entering a laboratory or studio space. Learn more about general Chemical Safety and specific topics related to:

Collection Hazards

Inherent and acquired hazards can be found throughout cultural institutions and their collections, posing significant risk to caretakers and the public. Conservators should know how to identify and mitigate these risks. Learn more about hazardous collection materials, including the following topics:

Workplace Safety

Work hazards should be minimized through work practices, engineering controls and personal protection. Learn more about Workplace Safety, including the following topics:

Additional Health & Safety Resources

Numerous public health and safety resources exist to help private conservators and large facilities assess hazards and develop and implement health and safety protocols. These include easily accessible web-based information on toxicological data and regulatory standards, directories of professional organizations’ safety consultants, information on pro-bono services, and links to occupational medical clinics.

Health and Safety Technical Resources for the Conservator

ACTS FACTS

ACTS FACTS, the monthly newsletter of Arts, Crafts, and Theater Safety (ACTS), has been publishing issues since 1987. Monona Rossol is the Editor of ACTS FACTS. ACTS has entered into an agreement with the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation (FAIC) to make their newsletter archives available to the public.To protect the value of subscriptions, issues from the past three years are not posted. You may subscribe on the ACTS website, if you would like access to the most recent ACT FACTS newsletters.

ACTS FACTS Archives

Annual Safety and Cultural Heritage Summit: Preserving Our Heritage and Protecting Our Health

Since 2016, the Washington Conservation Guild (WCG) , the Potomac Section of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), the Smithsonian Institution's Office of Safety, Health and Environmental Management (SI-OSHEM) and the Smithsonian National Collections Program have collaborated with the Lunder Conservation Center to host an annual conference addressing health and safety concerns in collection care.

View and download presentations from the WCG and AIHA's Websites:

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Pages in category "Health & Safety"

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