During the pandemic we all became aware of the importance of hand hygiene, but recently I was reminded why it is especially important for archaeologists and detectorists handling finds or working in the field.
As a detectorist I get to spend time working in the natural environment and, although often idyllic, it does present its’ own hazards. Coming into close contact with a sick deer and realising it might be suffering from lung worm or worse still Bovine TB – both transmittable to humans - reinforced why the use of antibacterial wipes, hand sanitisers and gloves are still important for those of us working in contact with the soil.
Whilst tetanus jabs are no longer routinely administered, good hand hygiene can not only protect us from parasites, bacteria and infections such as liver fluke, e-coli and sepsis, but also from toxins in lead finds and copper verdigris. In addition, there is the issue of waste, such as asbestos from old farm buildings, ending up on the land as LAG discovered recently during field walking.
It seems the old adage of work clean, work safe still applies!