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Health & Safety Network Conservation Wiki

Copyright: 2020. The Health & Safety Wiki pages are a publication of the Health & Safety Network of the American Institute for Conservation.

Some of the information included on this wiki may be out of date, particularly with regard to toxicological data and regulatory standards.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

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About the Network

The Health & Safety Network provides educational and technical information to the AIC membership to increase knowledge of safety hazards and general health issues related to the conservation profession. It provides information through lectures, workshops, displays, AIC's publications, AIC's website, and other electronic and print media. It also addresses health and safety issues of concern to the AIC membership by maintaining current information through research, by collaboration with health and safety professionals and with other health and safety organizations, and, periodically, by statistically valid surveys, the results of which will facilitate establishing priorities.

Publications & Activities

Disclaimer: Articles and guides are information purposes only. Some of the information may be out of date, particularly with regard to toxicological data and regulatory standards. More recent publications may include more up to date information, but there has been no attempt by the Committee to review and update previously published articles or to exhaustively catalog current legal requirements and standards applicable to the profession.

When using references from the publications listed, please use the most recently published articles on any particular topic. Also, because new information on safety issues is continually published, resources outside of AIC should be consulted for more specific information on toxicological data and regulatory standards. Many of the references listed in the links below as well as the Health and Safety Technical Resources for the Conservator guide can serve as resources for this type of information.

Respirator Fit Testing

Whether you are using hazardous chemicals in your laboratory or working with mold-infested artifacts after a flood, you need to be sure you are protected with a properly fitting respirator. Do the elastic straps still pull tightly? Do you need a new type or size due to facial changes resulting from weight gain or loss or surgery? Are you using the right kind of protection for your hazard?

OSHA requires individuals be fit tested on an ANNUAL basis to assess the condition of both the respirator and the user. If you perform work that requires the use of a respirator your employer MUST provide the appropriate respiratory protection, medical evaluation, training, information and fit testing–even disposable dust masks are considered by OSHA to be respirators requiring proper fit testing.

It is important to be proactive in your own health and safety and to follow OSHA recommendations and protocols, even if you are your only employee.

The AIC Fit Test Program is specifically designed for conservators, particularly those who are self-employed or who do not have a respiratory protection program provided through their employer.

Fit Testing at the Annual Meeting

The Health & Safety Network offers low-cost respirator fit testing every year at the Annual Meeting. Fit testing requires attending a lecture on care and use of the respirator, a medical evaluation signed by a health care provider, and a 15-20 minute fit test appointment performed by a safety specialist.

The AIC Fit Test Program was revised in 2017 and now includes an online lecture and more medical evaluation options. For more information see the 2020 Annual Meeting Workshop sign-up page.

If you have already registered for a fit test for 2020, you will be contacted by the Health & Safety Network to make the appropriate arrangements. If you have questions, please email [email protected]

This form must be signed by a healthcare provider and returned to the fit test organizers before the test can be administered. It allows a physician or other licensed healthcare professional to indicate whether you are medically cleared to safely wear a respirator in the course of your work without disclosing confidential medical information. To be completed after medical evaluation to include review of the OSHA Respirator Medical Evaluation Questionnaire (Mandatory) Appendix C of 29 CFR 1910.134 included in the OSHA Respirator Medical Evaluation Questionnaire Infosheet (below).
This OSHA infosheet includes the questionnaire to be completed with a healthcare provider to determine whether you can safely wear a respirator for your tasks. Your healthcare provider can then complete AIC's Respirator Medical Clearance Approval Form (above) to be turned in prior to fit testing.
Health & Safety Committee document outlining use and selection of FFP respirators (commonly known as disposable dust masks)

GHS Labeling Templates

Network Designed Templates

Labels that are compliant with the Globally Harmonized System for Hazard Communication and will fit small, secondary containers.
Downloads are Word Templates (.doc format) for 1" x 2 3/8" labels (30/sheet).
Note: Some adjustment of margins may be needed for your printer

These labels may need be edited to reflect the safety information provided by the manufacturer of your specific chemical

Commercially Available Labels

Handouts, Charts, Brochures and Factsheets

Health & Safety Guides

Beginning in 1998, the Health & Safety Network (formerly the Health & Safety Committee) prepared or commissioned special pull-out sections for AIC News. Those guides have been added to the wiki for commenting by site visitors and updates by the Health & Safety Network.

List of Guides in AIC News

UPDATED! Health and Safety in Emergency Response
UPDATED! A Conservator's Guide to Respiratory Protection
UPDATED! Health and Safety Technical Resources for the Conservator

AIC News Articles

Network Officers and members, along with consulting safety and healthcare professionals, write brief articles and features that are published in each issue of AIC News on health and safety topics relevant to the conservation community.

List of Articles Published in AIC News

AIC News PPE Series

List of PPE Articles Published in AIC News

Health & Safety Blogs on Conservators Converse

Committee members and allied professionals periodically write blog posts on behalf of the Committee to make announcements and update the membership on timely health and safety issues. Topical posts are listed below:


Additional blog posts

Health and safety posts written by the AIC membership:

Network Member Presentations & Publications

AIC Annual Meeting

  • Asbestos Safety and Current Practices in Cultural Properties
    Understanding Asbestos in a Museum Environment Margaret Skimina, Associate Director for Environmental Health, Safety, and Fire Protection, Art Institute of Chicago and Peter Dennis, Vice President of Operations, Environmental Analysis, Inc. (Download Presentation)
    Asbestos Containing Materials and Cultural Heritage Collections Lisa Goldberg, Conservator, Private Practice
    Asbestos in Collections Lisa Young, Conservator, National Air & Space Museum
  • Not a Known Carcinogen: Health and Safety Considerations of New and Innovative Treatments
    Kerith Koss Schrager, Julie Sobelman and Anne Kingery-Schwartz, General Concurrent Session, Treatment: Don't Go it Alone, AIC 45th Annual Meeting, May 30, 2017. (Read a Summary) (Download Postprints)
  • Health & Safety in Emergency Response Lunchtime Lecture, AIC 44th Annual Meeting, May 16, 2016
    Pierre Barbarie, Director-Campus Public Safety, McGill University; Barbara Lawson, Curator of World Cultures, Redpath Museum of McGill University; Vicki Lee, AIC National Heritage Responder, Julie Sobelman, Certified Industrial Hygienist
  • Health & Safety/Conservators in Private Practice Lunchtime Lecture, AIC 43rd Annual Meeting, May 14 - 16, 2015
    Studio Design Challenges: Creating a Safe and Practical Space, Jeff Hirsch, William Jarema, Dan Klein and Roger Rudy (EwingCole) (Download the Presentation)
  • Health & Safety Session: Sustaining the Conservator, AIC 42nd Annual Meeting, May 28 - 31, 2014
    Controlling Hazardous Collection Materials, Kerith Koss Schrager, Anne Kingery-Schwartz and Kathryn Makos (Download the Presentation)
    Unintended Consequences of Persistent Residual Vapor-Phase Chemicals within Collection Storage,Catharine Hawks and Kathryn Makos (Read a Summary)(Download the Presentation)
    Pesticide Residues and Staff Protection Ruth Norton, Conservator, Field Museum (Download Presentation)
    Medical Evaluations for Museum and Collection Care Professionals Dr. David Hinkamp, MD (Download the Presentation)
    Ergonomics in Collections Care Dr. David Hinkamp, MD (Download the Presentation)
    Mold Remediation: Lessons from Super Storm Sandy Chris Stavroudis, Conservator (Download Presentation)
    Swapping: Solvent Substitution Strategies, Part 1 Chris Stavroudis, Conservator (Download Presentation)
    Swapping: Solvent Substitution Strategies, Part 2 Chris Stavroudis, Conservator (Download Presentation)

Other Network Member Presentations & Publications

  • Investigation of Residual Contamination Inside Storage Cabinets: Collection Care Benefits from an Industrial Hygiene Study
    Rebecca A. Kaczkowski , Kathryn A. Makos , Catharine Hawks & Michael Hunt (2017): Investigation of Residual Contamination Inside Storage Cabinets: Collection Care Benefits from an Industrial Hygiene Study, Journal of the American Institute for Conservation, DOI: 10.1080/01971360.2017.1326242. (View paper)
  • Connecting to Collections Care (C2CC)
    Arsenic and Old Lace: Controlling Hazardous Collection Materials (Webinar) Presented by Kerith Koss Schrager, Kathy Makos and Anne-Kingery Schwartz. May 3, 2016 (Watch Presentation)
    Presentation Slides
    Presentation Notes
    Resource Guide
    Follow-up Q&A
  • MuseumPests 2014 Colonial Williamsburg, VA, March 2010
    Collateral Damage: Unintended consequences of vapor-phase organic pesticides, Presented by Kathy Makos (Paper)
    Safety Risk Management of Residual Pesticides in Collections, Kerith Koss Schrager, Kathy Makos, and Anne Kingery Schwartz (Poster)
  • Conservation-Restoration and Health/Security of people and the environment Draguignan-Figanières (Provence/France) June 2013
    The AIC Health and Safety Committee: Health and Safety Initiatives and the American ConservatorPresented by Joanne Klaar Walker (Summary published in AIC News)

Membership Surveys

  • Health and Safety in Private Conservation Studios (March 2015)
  • Respirator Fit Test Survey (2016)
  • Portable Fume Extractor Survey (November 2016)
  • Conservator Access and Interpretation of Health & Safety Information (May 2017)
To provide better information to the AIC membership on health and safety concerns, the AIC Health & Safety Committee conducted a survey to research how conservators obtain health and safety information, and how that knowledge informs their treatment decisions. Respondents were instructed to answer as they actually practice (not as they thought they should). The preliminary results from 241 respondents are included. Additional analysis will be presented in future publications.
Preliminary Results

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