From hazard analysis to action plan
But how exactly does the DEKRA employee come into play? Knippschild is not an expert in works of art or their restoration. "My job is essentially to work with a whole team of experts and compile the acquired information, indications, and data obtained into a hazard analysis and later into an action plan," says Knippschild.
A good example is the flooding emergency plan, which stipulates what is to be done in a worst-case scenario and by whom. At the suggestion of Thomas Knippschild, there are layout floor plans for all exhibition rooms. In the handy A5 format, small images even represent the individual works of art. This means that even external emergency from outside the company, for example from the fire department, can see at a glance what needs to be done. "It’s always the same questions when it comes to evacuations," says Knippschild. "Which works of art are the most valuable and should therefore be removed first from the walls or pedestals? Which ones are easy for one person to be transported, and which large-format works require multiple people? Then where do the paintings and handcrafted sculptures go? And so on and so forth. "Because when the water levels rise, things have to move fast."
DEKRA expertise helps to ensure greater safety in the event of flooding
The acute evacuation plans are, of course, accompanied by preventive structural measures, which are now organized in the emergency network. Everything together works so well that Dresden today has its flooding under control. Thanks also to the plans by Thomas Knippschild's and the measures undertaken, the second wave of flooding of the 21st century in 2013, with a level of 8.78 meters, did not cause nearly as much damage as it did in 2002. The Zwinger’s courtyard remained dry in any case. Another measure: The storage facilities for the works of art have since been relocated to above ground.
Occupational safety always in view
Not only art is risked by dangers from water, fire or UV radiation, but the objects themselves can also be dangerous. Take, for instance, the poisonous chemicals that earlier generations - with good intentions - used to protect against pesticides. Among other things, wooden objects were protected from beetles. But today, these chemicals can pose health hazard to museum staff, if the residue is inhaled or absorbed through their skin. Thomas Knippschild also has to keep in mind this issue at the SKD. Working with the DEKRA lab in Halle, the expert conducted a large-scale study of many collectibles on behalf of the SKD in order to assess the level of danger and develop corresponding measures from it. Since then, extractor hoods, protective gloves, lab clothing and other measures have been required at certain workstations in the SKD's restoration workshops.