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Guidance on Hazardous Collections

“For museum managers a day to day health and safety concern is the assessment and management of risks relating to visitors and their interaction with the museum’s building, events and activities. The prevalence of dealing with related matters means that they become part of the management routine. Similarly, museum governing bodies have statutory duties concerning the health and safety of their employees, most of which are generic, with many museums reviewing their associated procedures on a regular basis. One notable health and safety risk which can adversely affect the public, but more so museum staff and volunteers, is working with hazardous collections. Given that it does not usually feature as part of a museum’s health and safety routine, that it can be technically complex and its ‘behind the scenes’ nature, the risks associated with managing such collections can easily be overlooked or not given the serious consideration due. This guidance sets out to define what is understood by hazardous collections, highlight what sorts of artefacts and collections can pose the greatest risks to health, and to signpost ways in which such risks may be mitigated or addressed.”