Artists safety has become a mayor issue in the XXI century
1. ALL ACTIVITIES IN LIFE CARRY SOME RISK
The only way to have zero risk in life is not to do anything at all.
2. DECIDE FOR YOURSELF
How to deal with risk in your private life is a very personal matter, but knowing some basic principles of how professionals manage risk in business environment can be very useful in some cases when you need to decide on an specific color or technique.
3. AVOID SECOND HAND INFORMATION
Sources of reliable information are important in all aspects of life, but it becomes of paramount importance when it comes to informations so likely of causing panic or wrong ideas being part of conventional wisdom. Here are basic EU sources:
- Dangerous substances: Risk and Safety phrases
EU Commission Directive 2001 /59/EC of 6 August 2001 (ANNEX III)
Although the complete classification and harmonization apparently is not foreseen to be complete till 2018, it establishes the R (risk) and S (Safety) phrases that should be part of the correct labeling of the classified substances. I will give some examples below
- Health at work
European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU- OSHA) : Guidance on Risk Assessment at Work
- Labeling art materials in USA
If you buy artists products from USA, you may also need to check ASTM: Standard Practice for Labeling Art Materials for Chronic Health Hazards ASTM D4236
4. ASSESS THE RISK AND EXPOSURE ACCORDING TO YOUR PERSONAL CIRCUMSTANCES
Painting with pigmented hot wax might imply the following 3 areas of risks:
- There is evidence (sufficient or limited) that some pigments are carcinogenic.
- Some pigments are “toxic” to humans or environment at different levels due to containing toxic metals.
- Inhaling small dust particles or fumes containing toxic substances is harmful.
- MY PERSONAL RISK ASSESSMENT SCALE
|dangerous for the environment||avoid|
- MY PERSONAL EXPOSURE ASSESSMENT SCALE
5. PRIORITIZE THE RISKS
Characterization of risks balances risks with a high probability of occurrence but lower impact with those with high impact but lower probability.
RISK Characterization = RISK * EXPOSURE
- MY PERSONAL CHARACTERIZATION SCALE (PRIORITIZATION)
As an example: I would love to try the pigment Venetian Red but in the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) I find some R-risks which I value according to the risk scale, I would love to work with it daily so I value the exposure accordingly; then I calculate the characterization = RISK * EXPOSURE and see the pertaining action.
|R- Risk & valuation||Exposure & valuation||characterization||Action|
|R36 irritating to the eyes||4||possible daily||8||(32)||reduce|
|R37: irritating to the respiratory system||6||possible daily||8||(48)||reduce|
|R38 irritating to the skin||4||possible daily||8||(32)||reduce|
So I can use this color but I have to reduce the risk by Safety measures if I want to work with it every day, specially those concerning inhalation, or use it sparingly .
6. ALWAYS AVOID THE RISKS YOU THINK YOU CANNOT ACCEPT
There are risks which I directly avoid, are mainly those related to environmental danger. You can put yourself at risk but never others. If you are not a restorer, you can decide to find a substitution color with lower risk.
7. TRANSFER THE RISK WHEN YOU CONSIDER YOU SHOULD NOT GO INTO IT
If the risk factor for instance is due to inhaling pigment dust you can decide to buy the color ready made. In other circumstances where the transfer is not possible consider avoiding the risk or reducing it substantially.
8. REDUCE THE RISK UNTIL IT BECOMES ACCEPTABLE FOR YOU
9. ACCEPT THE RISK AND ENJOY
The fact that theoretical knowledge is of limited use in a world that is ruled by uncertainty and unpredictability, should not paralyze you:
FINAL PRINCIPLE: DECISION MAKING UNDER UNCERTAINTY
“WISDOM IN DECISION MAKING IS VASTLY MORE IMPORTANT THAN KNOWLEDGE”