Welcome to the History of Occupational Safety and Health website

Have you ever wondered how the UK became one of the safest places in the world to go to work?

If so, this website, which is hosted and constantly updated by Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd plus contributions by some members of RoSPA’s National Occupational Safety and Health Committee (NOSHC) and others in the health and safety world, is the place for you.

In 2011, the NOSHC decided to take forward the History of Occupational Safety and Health project in order to create a suitable “map” of occupational safety and health information sources and materials from an historical point of view, with as many links to original texts as possible. The oldest full text document contained in the website is De Re Metallica which is 500 years old.

This website, launched to mark the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on 28 April 2014, is the ongoing result of that project.


This website will be updated continually. Anyone with contributions to make should contact Sheila Pantry by email sp@sheilapantry.com


RoSPA’s NOSHC is grateful for the invaluable support provided by:

  • Sheila Pantry OBE, BA, FCLIP, IOSH Lifetime Achievement Award Winner 2013 – Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd, formerly Head of the Health and Safety Executive’s Information Services
  • David Eves CB – former Deputy Director General and Chief Inspector, Health and Safety Executive
  • Roger Bibbings, MBE, IOSH Lifetime Achievement Award Winner 2010 – RoSPA’s Occupational Safety Adviser to February 2014
  • Dr Peter Waterhouse BA, BSc, PhD, RSP, FIOSH – past President of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health

An invaluable resource for students, lecturers, trainers, health and safety professionals and others with a general interest in industrial history, the site sets out developments from the 1802 Factory Act all the way through to the most recent regulatory changes made by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

It provides a wealth of information for those wishing to track the development of occupational safety and health, be they teaching or studying for professional or academic qualifications or carrying out other research, showing how this area has been at the heart of the UK’s industrial history.

Numerous pieces of legislation have been introduced over more than 200 years, covering a wide array of different industries, but their shared aim has been to ensure that workers can go home to their families safe and healthy at the end of each day.

It is important to value the history of occupational safety and health, not just to honour its pioneers but to develop a sense of perspective about what needs to be done to continue to tackle preventable harms associated with work, not just in Britain but around the world.