With summertime coming around again, it is time for archaeologists to post photos of breathtakingly dangerous practice. I wonder sometimes if the digital age will eventually help improve practice at archaeological excavations through public censure and raised awareness. I’m not sure–my first Health & Safety for Academic Archaeologists (part 1) was posted in 2011 when I was shocked and outraged at stunning disregard for the wellbeing of workers displayed in photographs in the New York Times. But have things changed? Apparently not.
I was alerted to this particular instance from BAJR’s Facebook page, and there are nearly 100 similarly outraged comments below the link. The university backing the project has been notified by members of BAJR, but can we all agree to stop this now? This is not something that we should be teaching students. Projects that post photos like this should not be funded and should come under serious censure.
We need to do better. We need to teach proper health & safety to the next generation of archaeologists. We need to require project directors and supervisors receive rigorous training.
Curious about health & safety on archaeological sites? A good start is the CIfA’s Risk Assessment documents:
Lest you think this is UK-only, you can garner a very handsome fine from OSHA:
OSHA guide for trenches & excavation:
OSHA Trench Excavation Fact Sheet:
* All trenches over 1.5 meters require a protective system.
* All trenches require safe means of egress at all times.
As I said in my previous post:
Never work over your head. Never let anyone tell you that it is a good idea or that you aren’t being tough enough. Never work alone.