Prospect archaeologists agree industry statement on safer working

7 May 2020

A statement promoting safer working environments on constructions sites during the COVID-19 pandemic has been agreed by the Archaeology Industry Working Group, the influential body of which Prospect is a key member.

Crucially, the statement specifically refers to Prospect’s revised guidance for archaeologists on promoting safer environments, and recommends that it is used as the basis for the development of workplace agreements in the sector.

The agreed IWG statement begins:

“The Industry Working Group is determined to ensure that archaeological work does not pose a threat to the safety and well-being of archaeologists and their families, other workers or the wider public during the Coronavirus crisis. Doing so will help to reduce pressure on health services and save lives.”

The Archaeology Industry Working Group comprises the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, the Federation of Archaeological Managers & Employers and Prospect’s archaeologists branch. The IWG statement was co-signed by Jessica Bryan, chair of the branch.

The statement has also been endorsed by British Archaeological Jobs Resource and the Diggers’ Forum.

Prospect concerns

The pressing need for the statement was highlighted by Prospect in late April when the union raised concerns with Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy over the content of the latest version of the Construction Leadership Council’s Site Operating Procedures.

In his communication to archaeology members announcing the agreed statement, Andy Bye, Prospect negotiations officer, said: “We will be seeking to ensure that employers that recognise Prospect use our revised guidance in the preparation of their site operating procedures.

“We are recommending that members working for other employers should bring the attached statement and our guidance documents to the attention of their managers and refer to the guidance when considering the suitability of local site operating procedures.”

He added that Prospect would be keeping its guidance under review and it may be necessary for the IWG to review the detail the statement, especially as further details of the government’s proposals on returning to work emerge.

The IWG statement can be seen here: IWG statement

Copies of the revised guidance for archaeology branches can be downloaded from the Prospect library.