The HSE are to consult on exempting pre-construction archaeological investigation from the definition of ‘construction work’ for the purposes of the new CDM Regulations, they have announced at the FAME Forum. Consultation on the new regulations, due to be introduced in October 2014, will start in September this year. The exemption would not apply to archaeological work during construction, for which archaeological contractors would be classed as specialist contractors under the regulations . HSE reiterated their view that it would be inappropriate under normal circumstances for archaeological contractors to be Principal Contractors under the terms of the regulations. FAME’s Health and Safety Working Party will be co-ordinating a response to the consultation, and working with HSE to develop industry-specific guidance.

The magnificent setting of the FAME Forum at the Merchant Taylors Hall (photo York Archaeological Trust

Merchant Taylors Hall, the magnificent setting for the Forum (photo York Archaeological Trust)

Understanding your insurance obligations Tariq Mian, Towergate Insurance

Why do you need adequate insurance cover, and why is it important to understand what insurance you are buying? This paper will examine Public Liability, Employers Liability and Professional indemnity Insurance, and will consider questions such as where they are compulsory, what they cover, and what implications they have in terms of risk management.

It will also discuss risk exposure as a director, officer or trustee of a company or charity: how your decisions can affect you personally, and how you can insure against getting it wrong through directors, officers or charity trustees liability insurance. It will also consider business interruption – insuring your cash flow and what you need to know about it, and insuring your assets and why it is important to keep your broker or insurer informed. It will include some examples of claims, and will provide an opportunity for questions and discussion.

Investing in staff – a risk worth taking? Reviewing the skills and training statistics from Profiling the Profession 2012–13 Kenneth Aitchison, Director, Landward Research Ltd

Profiling the Profession 2012-13 was the UK’s fourth quinquennial archaeology labour market intelligence gathering exercise. The data stretch back to 1997, and the headline figures of the number of archaeologists in employment that rose to a peak in 2007-08 have come crashing downwards since. In a shrinking profession, with an asymmetrical oversupply of untrained would-be entrants, the data on skills and training are particularly interesting, especially when read alongside the (strongly) opinionated comments that some respondents to the survey generously provided.

When we look at our competitors, the archaeological profession thinks there is a widespread problem. Archaeology lacks professional skills – we think the sector as a whole needs better data management, leadership, business skills, education and training – but as individual employers, we rarely recognise these as being areas where we would invest in training our own staff or we would consider buying in outside help. This mismatch, and whether it might represent an opportunity, is the key issue that archaeological employers and managers need to be considering.

John Walker receives his award of Honorary Life President of FAME (photo York Archaeological Trust)

John Walker receives his FAME Honorary President award (photo York Archaeological Trust)

Sharing Financial Risk: The Application of Measured Contract Practices to Archaeological Contracting Michael Heaton, Michael Heaton Heritage Consultants

Uncertainty of financial outcome, borne of the inherent unpredictability of archaeological investigation, is arguably the principal obstacle to the fulfilment of archaeological contracting as a commercial and intellectual undertaking. It causes stress in what should be an intellectually-rewarding pursuit, and hinders investment in skills and public engagement. That uncertainty of outcome is largely the result of unsophisticated contract practices based on ‘lump sum’ and so-called ‘fixed price’ contracts, naively adopted in the years either side of PPG16 and left unchallenged. 

Civil engineering groundworks – the commercial undertaking most readily comparable to archaeological contracting – is invariably undertaken on the basis of ‘Measured’ contracts, in which the contractor is paid for what they have had to do, not what someone thought they might have to do. Such contracts explicitly acknowledge the inherent unpredictability of groundworks, share the financial risk between contractor and client, and are accepted throughout the international construction industry. They are directly applicable to archaeological contracting.

This short paper presents the author’s experience, as a consultant, of applying such practices to archaeological excavations in southern England, and his thoughts on how the method could be adapted for more widespread use in archaeological contracting. It is based, in part, on the author’s Construction Management coursework undertaken for a Graduate Diploma in Building Surveying at the University of the West of England, and his on-going discussions with UWE teaching staff and fellow professionals.

Which Archaeologist? Improving commercial practice, understanding value and risk Tim Malim, SLR Consulting Ltd

The successful development of commercial archaeology over the past 25 years has generated opportunities for graduate careers, produced a massive output of archaeological data, and led to increased professionalism. Commercial archaeology is driven, however, by developer-funding, and the down-side of this success story has been the operational difficulties caused by price competition within a largely unregulated market place. Other professions have developed educational pathways and business practices that allow them to operate effectively as part of the development process, and commercial archaeology now needs to develop similar strategies, as well as developing complementary skill sets to increase value to their paymasters.

As a profession, simply understanding the nuts and bolts of the discipline and how we can practically apply archaeological investigation is insufficient to be a successful business. In future archaeologists need to become fully-fledged members of development project teams, with a wide knowledge of legislation and the planning process beyond just the historic environment, and they will need to execute rigorous business and financial planning, to operate effective methods of project management and quality assurance, and develop partnerships to maximise value and opportunity within development schemes. This paper will explore what mechanisms exist to help us improve quality and identify risk, so that clients can make better value judgements on which archaeologist they should appoint.

Democracy at work at the FAME AGM at Barley Hall (photo York Archaeological Trust)

Democracy in action at the AGM at Barley Hall (photo York Archaeological Trust)