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Museum Risk Management - Collection Fire Safety and Historic Structure Asbestos-Lead Surveys, Part 1 (AIHce EXP 2020 OnDemand)

Course Description:
Recorded at Virtual AIHce EXP 2020

This interactive session provides real-world strategies for assisting the collection care workforce in managing their risks from fluid collections, historic texts, fossils, and apothecaries. First, we will summarize two cases where the preservation of collections posed an employee exposure risk: one during the preservation of specimens using formalin, and the other during conservation of arsenic-containing historic texts. Both highlight the diversity of occupational hazards in museums and reveal some of the challenges of developing workplace controls in a museum environment. Second, we will describe how fossilized collections are prepared for scientific study and display using various methods to remove rock matrix surrounding the specimen. Matrix removal methods generate airborne particulates, posing inhalation risks from respirable crystalline silica in certain matrices and other exposures. Assessments conducted in the Vertebrate Paleontology Preparation Lab and Exhibit FossiLab at the Smithsonian, and the effectiveness of controls in place to reduce exposures, will be discussed. Lastly, we will discuss apothecaries and the hidden hazards found in their collections. This presentation will provide insight into the hidden hazards of apothecary collections, tips on sleuthing hidden hazards out of the dark, key points where exposure exists, basic cataloging strategies, exposure assessment focal points, and an introduction to apothecary collection risk management.

Learning Objectives:
Upon completion, the participant will be able to:

  • Recognize hazards presented by museum, scientific, and cultural heritage environments.
  • Describe the unique hazards with fluid collections, historic texts, fossils, and apothecaries.
  • Discuss control methods and risk management techniques.
  • Determine the OSHA and environmental regulations impacting this workforce.
  • Leverage resources and AIHA volunteer opportunities to assist museums and conservation organizations.

Contact Hours:

Presentation Date:

Mr. Jeffrey Sotek, PE, CSP, CIH
Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions, Inc.
Clifton Park, NY, United States of America

Kimberly Harmon, CIH
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, DC, United States of America

Kathryn Makos, MPH CIH
Smithsonian Institution (ret)
Rockville, MD, United States of America