Volume 14, Number 3, Sept 1992, p.36

A Renewed Interest in Health and Safety

by Chris Stavroudis

More and more, conservators are showing concern for their health and safety. This change for the better was in evidence at the June AIC Meeting in Buffalo.

Upon opening our registration packets, we were treated to the newly revised Conservation Hazards Data Sheet, "Solvents in Art Conservation Laboratories." The eight-page report was written by Angela Babin and Michael McCann and is published by, and available from, the Center for Safety in the Arts. You may contact CSA at:

The Center for Safety in the Arts
5 Beekman Street, Suite 1030
New York, NY 10038

Let me rephrase that: You *should* contact CSA at the above address. A stamped, self-addressed envelope will get a list of CSA's publications. Better yet, send money ($21.00) and subscribe to Art Hazards News. While you have your checkbook out, send more money ($10.00) and subscribe to ACTS FACTS:

Arts Crafts and Theater Safety (ACTS)
181 Thompson Street, #23
New York, NY 10012

AIC has reconstituted the Health and Safety Committee. Sandra Blackhard is the chair of the committee and has recruited Dan Riss, Sarah McElroy, and John Messinger as members. Monona Rossol (ACTS) has agreed to be an official consultant to the committee. The committee plans an active presence within AIC. They plan to publish columns in AIC News on a regular basis. They will organize presentations, and possibly a special session, at upcoming AIC meetings.

Scott Haskins featured Health and Safety in the CIPP (Conservators in Private Practice) session that he organized at the Buffalo Meeting. Not exposing the human organism to hazardous materials is very important. The obvious reason is, well, obvious. There is another reason. It is against the law. The three presentations were on compliance with, and adapting to, legal requirements for health and safety. Borrow a copy of the CIPP preprints from a CIPP friend. The preprints are also available for purchase from the AIC office. The compilation of materials that accompanied the three presentations is excellent.

Quoting from the first line of the first preprint paper: "The OSHA 'General Duty Clause' states that each employer 'shall furnish...a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards...'. " That is how Karen Yager began her exposition entitled "Occupational Safety and Health: A Primer for Conservators in Private Practice." The 49 pages of associated material includes: an outline of applicable regulations, guidelines and standards of OSHA and EPA; a list of sources for information; a copy of CSA's publication Respirators, a list of safety supply sources; and a copy of the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard, August 24, 1987. There was also a table full of look-but-don't-touch information at the session.

Camilla Van Vooren's presentation, "Monitoring Toxic Levels in a Conservation Studio (Retroftting an Old Building to Acceptable Health and Safety Standards for Conservation)", described the experiences of the Western Center for the Conservation of Fine Art (WCCFA) in an OSHA funded consultation program.

Janice Fitzpatrick gave an honest and entertaining walk-through of establishing "Your Company's Injury and Illness Prevention Program" in her talk. She chronicles the one step forward, two steps backward regulatory jig. In the end, Fine Art Conservation Laboratories (FACL), ends up with an approved Injury and Illness Prevention Program and Hazards Communication Program in full compliance with OSHA and Cal/OSHA. Janice also gets extra points for citing this column as a resource.


Zora Sweet Pinney wrote the NAMTA brochure, The Safeguarded World of Art Materials. This 16-page goodie should be available from your local art materials store, free of charge. Commissioned and distributed by the National Art Materials Trade Association, the booklet, written in a question and answer format, discusses safety labeling of artists' materials. Written for the layperson, the explanations of hazardous materials' entry routes into the body are simple and clear. There are a number of sound tips associated with many of the answers. For example: "Never point a brush or hold any art tool or material against your lips or in your mouth." and "Wash your hands before going to the bathroom or touching contact lenses." While every conservator should know the material in the brochure cold, it is never a waste of time to review how to implement that knowledge in our daily tasks. The guide is also a good resource to defer to when general questions are asked by the public.

Next Column:

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. If you have any experiences with this problem related to conservation, please give me a call: 213/654- 8748.

(Chris Stavroudis is a conservator in private practice in Los Angeles.)

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