Contributions to the AICCM National Conference 2013, Adelaide 23-25 October


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, in conjunction with an Occupational Health Physiotherapist / Ergonomist, 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 (MSD) of the neck, upper back, shoulders, elbows and wrists was identified as high. As required by contemporary Work Health & Safety legislation, the hierarchy of risk control was applied to ensure the most effective control measures were implemented. As hazard elimination or substitution were not possible in this context, the highest level of risk control measures to be considered was that of engineering controls. Various innovative and unique solutions were developed that involved redesigning the standard equipment normally used in conservation work. These include electric, height adjustable, motorised multi-component work systems and adjustable sloped work surfaces for carrying out textile conservation treatments and modified tables for the unique problems associated with frame conservation. This example of a multi-faceted, participative ergonomics approach, combining innovative engineering controls, has been highly successful in reducing the risk of work-related musculoskeletal disorders from conservation treatments at Artlab, Australia.


Art Conservation, Musculoskeletal injury prevention, Hazardous Manual Tasks, Participative Ergonomics, Workplace design, Risk management

AICCM National Conference 2013
Paper author:
Kristin Phillips, Justin Gare and Jo Bills