I remember at our college summer training dig in West Dorset, excavating a medieval site, those students who suffered from either asthma or hay fever were offered to opportunity to excavate a sheltered waterlogged trench, an old mill pond, rather than one out within the pollen laiden field where the main part of the earthworks lay. Those who suffered such ailments gladly took up the offer spurred on with the suspicion that the old millpond was likely to be the most productive part of the site. It did not take long for those who took this opportunity to see that perhaps suffering from hay fever or breathing difficulties certainly outweighed being eaten alive by man-eating midges that thrived in the wetland.
From: Michael Haseler <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Thursday, 19 April 2012, 9:52
Subject: Re: [BRITARCH] Risk Assessments Was Heavy Metals
I would agree that experience counts as evidence, but I still maintain that the old strategy of teaching people about risk, based on what accidents were actually happening was far more effectively than this modern nonsense of getting people to imagine risks when they have no personal experience or understanding of the risks.
It is far more important that people are made aware of what accidents have happened ... ideally through a database, so that they can take account of these and take appropriate remedial action, than that they conduct an utterly meaningless risk assessment.
If you have enough experience and can fill in the risk assessment ... you do not need it.
If you don't have the experience/training or haven't access to real evidence you don't understand the risk and so the risk assessment is meaningless.
Either way, the risk assessment is meaningless.
In contrast, training, experience and access to good statistics are key to effective risk reduction.
Which brings me back to the same issue .... is there a database of accidents occurring on archaeological digs?
The answer I think is not ... and so instead of everyone wasting time filling in meaningless risk assessments, if they spent less time putting what accidents do occur into a readily available database - which people read took heed of, everyone would be a lot safer!!
On 19/04/2012 06:43, David Walland wrote:
> There you are Mike. This is why risk asseesment should always be done
> between those who actually do the work and those who know what RAs are for
> and the law. I *never* write a risk assessment for others, only ever
> *with* them. You need both sorts of expert to produce anything worth the
> effort, with the proviso that it is possible for the actual person on the
> ground to actually understand the issues of what risk assessment is about
> and become both sorts of expert. Even an H&S specialist can sometimes
> manage it! (I've got some cracking RAs for my wife's work with glass -
> sorry about the pun; just not *very*).
> What's actually needed is humility from the H&S side and understanding that
> this is not just a tedious exercise but a potentially lifesaving one, from
> everyone else.
> Humans are especially bad at assessing relative risks and probability,
> notoriously when we're young! (Those insurance prices for young drivers
> are based on solid probability).
> David Walland
> On 18 April 2012 15:38, Michael Haseler<[log in to unmask]> wrote: