Proceedings of the AICCM TSIG Symposium, Sydney, Australia 19 to 22 May, 2016

Conservation treatments often involve the use of awkward static postures and intensive periods of fine detail work, which can lead to injury. Conservators at Artlab Australia, have worked collaboratively with an Occupational Health Physiotherapist / Ergonomist, over the past ten year and have systematically considered a range of injury risk factors, including movements and postures, load, work organisation, working environment and personal factors. These factors were then evaluated according to a risk rating matrix that is embedded in the risk assessment process. Using this matrix, the risk rating for musculoskeletal disorders of the neck, upper back, shoulders, elbows and wrists was identified as high. Various innovative engineering solutions were developed that involved redesigning standard equipment including electric, height adjustable, multi-component tables and adjustable sloped work surfaces for carrying out conservation treatments. This example of a multi-faceted, participative ergonomics approach, combining innovative engineering controls, with changes to the work practices and improved awareness of risk for injury has been highly successful in reducing the risk of work-related musculoskeletal disorders from conservation treatments at Artlab, Australia.

KEYWORDS: Art conservation, musculoskeletal injury prevention, hazardous manual tasks, participative ergonomics workplace design, risk management, manuscript

AICCM Textile Special Interest Group 2016 Symposium: Emerging Technologies in Textile Conservation
Paper author:
Kristin Phillips, Jo Bills, Justin Gare