What do I need to consider when planning the movement of an object?

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Category: Handling
Posted by Conservation Answers(Questions:33:Answers28)
Answered On 25 February, 2014 12:33 am

To reduce the risk of damaging an object, plan your proposed movement before picking the object up.

It is important to understand the needs of the object by inspecting it and considering its vulnerabilities. What is its size and weight? What is the nature of its construction and surface? Are there existing damage or other weakness?

Before you start to move the object, decide on your route and think about what doors, stairs, tight corners or other obstacles you will need to negotiate. Make sure there is space to put the object at the destination, and arrange cushioning or padded blocks there ready for when you arrive.

Make preparations before moving an item

013 Make preparations before moving an item

Decide how many people are needed. For all but the shortest journeys you will need someone to assist by opening doors, watching for obstacles and keeping the route clear of people. Of course, you may need many more to move large, awkward or heavy objects. As you proceed, talk through your actions with your team-mates, and move slowly and carefully.

Communication and planning are key to moving objects safely

Communication and planning are key to moving objects safely

Wear gloves to protect surfaces

When thinking about moving particular objects, you will need to decide whether it is preferable to wear gloves or use bare hands. Many surfaces can be permanently marked if touched with bare hands, even if your hands are clean. This is especially true for metal items such as polished silverware. The finger marks may not be immediately apparent, but can show up over time due to the acids, salts and oils from the skin etching the surface. Therefore, as a general rule, it is often recommended that gloves are worn when handling heritage collections. Bear in mind, however, that the gloves must be clean. Dirty gloves are no better than dirty hands.

There are a variety of gloves available, suitable for various types of objects. White cotton gloves are suitable for most types of objects. However, the cotton can catch on or abrade fragile surfaces, they may not provide a good grip for polished or glass objects, and could be cumbersome for paper items or delicate materials. Thin latex or nitrile gloves may be more suitable.

From left to right: Cotton, nitrile and latex gloves

From left to right: Cotton, nitrile and latex gloves

If you judge that it is not safe to handle an object with any gloves, then it goes without saying that freshly washed hands are certainly preferable to a dropped or badly damaged item.

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