Health and Safety considerations

Dear all,

I am putting together guidance for volunteers active in archaeological investigations, and it has been pointed out to me that the document ought to summarise the key Health and Safety differences between paid and volunteer work, and discuss what issues arise in instances of mixed teams of paid professionals and volunteers.

I am aware of the document below from Volunteering England which discusses H&S for volunteers, but wondered if anyone could recommend any other information or resources, particularly for other parts of the UK since the guidance I am writing will be UK-wide in focus?

It may well be the case that legally there isn’t that much difference (although I do know that types of insurance cover preclude volunteers from some commercial archaeological work), but it’s not an area with which I am familiar (I haven’t looked at H&S legislation in a while and haven’t worked in the field for 10 years!), so really any pointers from more experienced volunteer managers that have had to deal with health and safety managers greatly appreciated here – although I do appreciate there is probably an ideological debate waiting to happen lurking in here as well 😉

An operation is undertaken either safely or not and we ensure our policies and practices with regard to H&S don’t draw any distinction between staff and volunteers. Whilst there is a distinction in law good practice, we believe, means all people undertaking activities for you should be following the same health and safety practices to both ensure their safety and that of others. Obviously H&S needs to be applied sensible and realistically to operations and not seen as a barrier to doing things but a route to undertaking activities safely.

I also think it’s worth thinking about stress and H&S – in terms of the implications of stress for/on volunteers, not the stress that you might be experiencing by sorting out H&S for volunteers 🙂 . It’s often over-looked, including during risk assessments, and lots of organisations don’t really understand or think about their duty of care to volunteers when it comes to stress.