Health and safety legislation can make life difficult, particularly surrounding hazardous materials such as asbestos, heavy metals, PCPs etc. Legislation is in place for good reason and must be followed, but given the nature of much of the industrial heritage we work with it, is essential to have a good awareness and understanding of the legislation, as well as of the hazards themselves, to ensure safe and legal activity.
Technical inspection issues are often a problem for actually running old machinery. Modern standards may be much stricter or simply don’t fit “the old ways” anymore. Keeping in mind that museum use is (and should be) very different from operation at full load gives room for discussion with the responsible inspectors. For example hoisting devices, say harbour cranes, with a max. load of originally 3t, now lifting mere 200kg for demonstration purposes suffer a fraction of the strain they were built to support.
That’s an interesting point, Eva. In your experience, are inspectors usually willing to listen and understand the museum context, or are there occasions when heritage organisations have had to stop using equipment because it has not been possible to work to modern standards?