Wednesday, June 05, 2024

Health and Safety in the Field

New York Archaeological Council Field Schools


New York Archaeology SafetyArchaeology, especially the field work portion, can be a physically demanding undertaking.  While it is not necessary to be in excellent physical condition, it certainly helps.  However anyone that heads to the field (or lab) needs to be aware of the many health issues that may arise, and be prepared to deal with them.  Health concerns are not confined to accidents, snakebites and the like.  There are also issues of general health that can be affected.

Respiratory conditions

Asthma and other respiratory related conditions can be worsened by field and lab conditions, inlcuding high dust concentrations, allergens in the atmosphere,  physical labor, distance from health care facilities, etc.

Temperature Stress

Both hot and cold conditions such as heat exhaustion and frost bite, are common concerns for archaeologists.

Diabetes and other metabolic conditions

The high level of physical labor may necessitate a modification of normal medication/dietary levels in order to keep pace.

Overall these and other health concerns that may arise are often easily addressed, as long as the individual is aware of their potential and prepares appropriately.  There are several sources available that provide detailed information on Health concerns in archaeology.  The website has an ongoing project to develop comprehensive information.

Additionally, Kenneth Feder and David Poirer have published a volume titled Dangerous Places: Health, Safety, and Archaeology. (published in 2001 by Bergin and Garvey).  This volume is now available on line through (you will need to purchase an account to review the entire book).

Health Training and Education Program

Training in Health and Safety Issues is available for archaeologists in New York through a program funded by the New York State Occupational Safety and Health Training and Education Program Contract No. C011641.  This contract is held by the firm of Panamerican Consultants Incorporated who run a series of workshops at various locations across the state. The following information is copied from their flyer for the course:

What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You!

Take a Health and Safety Course!

Be Prepared for Potential Risks in the Field and Office!

 Funded by a New York State Government Office that Cares:

The New York State Occupational Safety and Health Training and Education Program Contract No. C011641

Sponsored by a Cultural Resource and an Environmental Firm that Cares:

Panamerican Consultants, Inc.  (PCI) and Panamerican Environmental Inc. (PEI)

Given by the Dazzling (or at least informed) Training Pair of Michele H. Hayward and Peter Gorton

Michele Hayward, Archaeologist with Panamerican Consultants and Peter Gorton, Health and Safety Specialist with Panamerican Environmental

Training Session Particulars:

Length: a mere 6 hours in which to enlighten you!

Cost: best of all, the session is free!  Lunch is not provided.

Topics Covered: Physical (examples: heat/cold stress; field excavation safety procedures; utility cable field safety), Biological (examples: tick born diseases; poisonous/dangerous animals), and Chemical (examples: toxic chemicals; laboratory materials; hazardous wastes in air, soil, water) hazards; review and development of a health and safety plan.

Session Training Techniques: presentation of information through power point system and materials such as a health and safety manual; discussion by way of trainer’s and participant’s field/office experiences

Certificates: a spiffy certificate with your name prominently displayed is presented upon completion of the course.  Wax seal and ribbons are extra.

Where Can I or My Field Crew or My Student Class or My Firm’s Employees Sign up for this Unique Opportunity?

Contact Michele H. Hayward at the following addresses:

Phone: 716 821-1650

Fax:      716 821-1607



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