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Health & Safety Network Conservation Wiki
Copyright: 2021. 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Some of the information included on this wiki may be out of date, particularly with regard to toxicological data and regulatory standards.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.
Contributors: Kerith Koss Schrager
- 1 Biological Monitoring & Exposure Assessments
- 2 Chemical Hygiene Plan
- 3 Emergency Response
- 4 Ergonomics
- 5 Eye Health
- 6 Fall Protection
- 7 Fire Safety
- 8 Job Hazard Analysis
- 9 Risk Assessments
- 10 Safety Training
Biological Monitoring & Exposure Assessments
Chemical Hygiene Plan
An emergency is defined as a serious situation or occurrence that happens unexpectedly and demands immediate action. Preparing for an emergency response, whether resulting from a natural disaster or a building facilities failure, is an important aspect of collection care.
Policies for response should be included in an organization’s disaster plan and should address not only the procedures to recover collections but the health and safety of the responders.
Any time collection caretakers are called upon to respond to an emergency, it is important to remember that not all stages of an emergency demand rapid response—the recovery and assessment of cultural property will be a secondary response. Access to cultural properties will only be allowed once immediate threats to life and health are cleared.
Always put the health and safety of individuals first, otherwise, you put the entire response effort at risk. With every experience in an emergency response, greater insight is gained into those accumulated best practices that promise to improve both personal skills and lasting contributions to the knowledge of emergency response.
- Stand Up and Stretch!
May 2014 (39:3) 18-19 Anne Kingery-Schwartz, Erin Jue and Joanne Klaar Walker
- Ergonomics: A Quick Note
November 2012 (37:6) 10 Erin Jue
- Your Workstation: is it Working for You?
May 2007 (32:3) 16-17 Catherine Coueignoux
- Health & Safety News: Ergonomics Standard Published
March 2001 (26:2) 11 Summarized from ACTS FACTS Vol 15 no. 1, page 2
- Eyewash station
- Considerations for Conservators in the Prevention of Vision Problems
July 2017 (42:4) 20 Cyndie Lack
- Dangerous Detergents? Health and Safety Answers for Surfactant Questions
May 2017 (42:3) 16 Laura Mina and Geneva Griswold
- Vision Care in Conservation
January 2016 (41:1) 16-17 Justin Johnson
- New Safety Eyewear Standard: Confusion Over at Last
January 2011 (36:1) 5 Reprinted in part from ACTS FACTS
- Ultra Violence to Your Eyesight
July 2004 (29:4) 11-12 Mary Ballard
Fire Codes and Regulations
National Fire Protection Association
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is a global self-funded nonprofit organization, established in 1896, devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. NFPA delivers information and knowledge through more than 300 consensus codes and standards.
- NFPA 909: Code for the Protection of Cultural Resource Properties - Museums, Libraries, and Places of Worship
This code describes principles and practices of protection for cultural resource properties (such as museums, libraries, and places of worship), their contents, and collections, against conditions or physical situations with the potential to cause damage or loss.
Free access available by registering account with NFPA
This code describes principles and practices of fire safety for historic structures and for those who operate, use, or visit them.
Free access available by registering account with NFPA
- Flammability of Rehousing Materials
March 2019 (44:2) 25 Josh Stewart
See: Fire extinguisher
- Impact of Fire Extinguisher Agents on Cultural Resource Materials Fire Protection Research Foundation (2016)
In 2009, recognizing the need for further investigation, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Technical Committee on Cultural Resources submitted a project proposal to the Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF). The proposal was to develop test specifications and procedures for measuring the impact of portable fire extinguisher agents on cultural resource collections. This document reports the results of two subsequent studies conducted by Jensen Hughes and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation as part of an Institute of Museums and Library Services National Leadership Grant (IMLS-NLG) to explore the impacts of fire protection agents on cultural heritage materials.
- The Hidden Hazards of Fire Soot
September 2010 (35:5) 1, 3-5, Dawn Bolstad-Johnson
Job Hazard Analysis
See: Job Hazard Analysis
See page 2 of Start Here! Introductory Health & Safety Resources for the Health & Safety Network's PDF checklist for workplace safety training.
As conservators begin school and start new internships and jobs, laboratory and workplace safety training should be part of your introduction to your workplace. Safety training is not just good sense–it is required for all employers.
Who should have safety training?
Anyone who works in the conservation lab or studio should receive workspace-specific safety training in addition to safety training provided by the overall institution, unless they are under direct and constant supervision of someone with safety training every moment they are working. This includes new as well as current full- and part-time conservation employees, contractors, volunteers, interns and anyone else who may have contact with hazardous materials or situations within the space such as custodians and art handlers.
How often should safety training be conducted?
Individuals should review their safety training annually or whenever new safety policies are implemented. Anyone newly entering the lab or studio should receive training as soon as possible.
What should be included in safety training?
- Review and location of the Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP)
- Review of Chemical Safety, including chemical handling, labeling and storage
- Locations and types of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Review of hazardous materials handling and waste disposal
- Locations and use of first aid kits, eye washes and showers
- Review and location of the Disaster & Emergency Plans
- Review of Evacuation Routes
- Review and locations of Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) and Hazard Communication Protocols
- Review of use of fume extraction and ventilation (including respirators, if used)
- Contact information for persons responsible for safety protocols and emergency response (for the lab, institution and city) *Review of any lab and institution specific safety plans (such as handling pesticide residues or ladder/scaffolding use)
- Instruction on creating and using a Job Hazard Analysis (JHA)
- Review of radiation use and safety (if used)
- Create a work environment where workers feel comfortable and confident in performing tasks safely and reporting safety concerns
- Provide safety training for all workers in the lab or studio
- Implement, review and maintain all safety documents (CHP, SDS, Disaster Plan)
- Enforce safety protocols
- Maintain relationships with and request information from appropriate safety professionals
- Ensure workspace and equipment meets all city, state and OSHA safety guidelines
- Provide annual fit testing for respirators if they are used
- Be proactive in your own health and safety
- Participate in employer provided safety training
- Follow safety protocols
- Promptly inform supervisor of all safety concerns
- Request safety training if it is not provided to you