The online resource for the historic environment

5.09 Health and safety

Health & safety legislation has grown explosively over the last few years and anyone involved in the historic environment must be aware of the impositions and implications for their work on and within the historic environment. The need to plan for and be aware of the impact of health and safety legislation is a fundamental and vital skill for you the conservation practitioner. You must be able to brief clients and co-ordinate the efforts of other professionals and workers and define and co-ordinate their roles and responsibilities under health and safety legislation. You must have a good working knowledge of how such legislation affects the historic environment and how you and others working within it will be affected by it.

List the principle health and safety legislation and regulations that impact on and influence the undertaking of work on and within the historic environment.

You may wish to visit the Health & Safety Executive website for guidance on and understanding of the complex of regulatory imposition on places of work and on building operations.

The historic environment may well have made use of some material, components and constructional methods that are now considered heath hazards and therefore work on and within the historic environment may pose a risk or health threat to those persons working within it.

Identify at least ten materials or situations that may pose a health hazard when working on the historic environment. Also identify at least ten operations that may pose a risk to workers when working in the historic environment.

The use of asbestos in older heating installations is certainly likely to be a hazard that you will come across and you should be aware of it and how it should be assessed and managed. To assist the Health & Safety Executive has issued many guidance leaflets and these may be accessed at the above web site. The Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations imposes a responsibility to undertake a survey of premises to assess for the presence of asbestos containing materials. This legislation requires that all owners and managers of premises where staff are employed or the public have access shall undertake a survey of and carry out a risk assessment of ACMs contained within premises. The legislation outlines three levels of survey.

By reference to the legislation, define the three levels of survey and how their undertaking and investigation methods adopted might impact on or present risk to the historic environment. Assess how investigative work to determine presence of ACMs might result in damage to historic fabric.

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 imposes certain criteria when determining when or if the regulations might apply to construction work.

By reference to the web site mentioned above define the criteria for when and if the CDM regulation shall apply to construction work. Identify the principle roles and responsibilities defined by the regulations.

The plethora of health and safety legislation will certainly impact on any use of, management of and work to the historic environment and will impose a requirement on anyone working within it to clearly understand the regulatory imposition and its impact on all operations.