Reading List

Listed in alphabetical order of author’s surname.

Please note that this is NOT a definitive list and new items are constantly being added.

For readers wishing to explore more full text and bibliographic links check out OSH UPDATE + FIRE – a collection of 26 databases that contains over 1,125,000 records. OSH UPDATE + FIRE is continually updated.

Agricola, Georgius

De Re Metallica

Translated from the first Latin edition of 1556. Reprinted 1950.

The 1950 edition of De Re Metallica is a complete and unchanged reprint of the translation printed in The Mining Magazine, London in 1912 from the first Latin edition, by Hoover, Herbert Clark and Hoover, Lou Henry.

Published USA, New York: Dover Publications Inc.


Annual Reports of HM Chief Inspector of Factories and Workshops, 1833–1974


Continued as Health and Safety Commission and Health and Safety Executive Annual Reports



HMSO, 1973, Cmnd. 5398

ISBN 0101539800

Examines the historical development of concern for occupational exposure to lead, and concentrates on the work of the Employment Medical Advisory Service (EMAS) in the early 1970s to regulate occupational exposure to lead.

In Annual Report of HM Chief Inspector of Factories, 1972, pp. 20–27


Noise in Industry

HMSO, 1970, Cmnd. 4461

ISBN 0101446101

Describes the work of the Factory Inspectorate in the 1960s as regards noise reduction and hearing protection; and places the campaigns in a historical context.

In Annual Report of HM Chief Inspector of Factories, 1969, pp. 18–21

Abraham, May E.; Davies, Arthur Llewelyn

The Law Relating to Factories and Workshops (including laundries, railways, and docks)

London, Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1896; 5th edition, 1905

Part I: A practical guide to the law and its administration by May E. Abraham bound with Part II: The Acts, with notes by Arthur Llewelyn Davies.

Available from the British Library: (System number: 006799097)

Anderson, Dame Adelaide Mary

Social Justice

September–October 1936, vol. 1, no. 3

Anderson, Adelaide Mary

Women in the Factory: An Administrative Adventure, 1893–1921

New York, Murray, 1922

Available from the British Library: (System number: 012790325)

Askwith, Betty

Lady Dilke, a biography

London, Chatto and Windus, 1969

Asquith, Herbert Henry, first Earl of Oxford and Asquith

Memories and Reflections, 1852–1927, 2 vols.

Boston, Little, Brown, 1928

Bartrip, Peter W. J.

The Home Office and the dangerous trades: Regulating occupational disease in Victorian and Edwardian Britain

This book is the first in-depth study of occupational health in nineteenth and early-twentieth century Britain. As such it is an important contribution to the burgeoning literature on the history of health in the workplace. It focuses on the first four diseases to receive bureaucratic and legislative recognition: lead, arsenic and phosphorus poisoning and anthrax. As such it traces the emergence of medical knowledge and growth in public concern about the impact of these diseases in several major industries including pottery manufacture, matchmaking, wool-sorting and the multifarious trades in which arsenic was used as a raw material. It considers the process of state intervention taking due account of the influence of government inspectors, ‘moral entrepreneurs’ and various interest groups.

Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2002, 267 pp.

ISBN 9042012188

Available from the British Library: (System number: 006638698)

Baxter, Peter; Aw, Tar-Ching; Cockcroft, Anne; Durrington, Paul; Harrington, Malcolm

See: Hunter’s Diseases of Occupations

Bedington, R. H.

The growth and awareness of health and safety at work, 1780 1900 (Thesis)

University of Aston in Birmingham, 1983

Available from the British Library: (System number: 011671291)

Bibbings, Roger

Teaching our history


Boucherett, E. Jessie

Lead Poisoning in Pottery Work

Englishwomen’s Review 30, 15 April 1899, pp. 98–102

Boucherett, E. Jessie and Blackburn, Helen, editors

The Condition of Working Women and the Factory Acts

London, Elliot Stock, 1896

Brownlow, Jane M. E.

Women and Factory Legislation

London Women’s Emancipation Union, 1896

Buchanan, R. A.

Industrial Archaeology in Britain

Penguin Books, 1972, 446 pages

Industrial archaeology is a field of study concerned with investigating, surveying, recoding, and in some cases, with preserving industrial monuments. It aims, moreover, at assessing the significance of these monuments in the context of social and technological history. Contains numerous photos and line drawings.

Burgess, J. E.

Occupational Health in the Agricultural Industry

in Current Approaches to Occupational Health, edited by A. Ward-Gardener, Elsevier Ltd, 1982, pp. 62–85

This chapter discusses occupational health in the agricultural industry, which has undergone dramatic changes. It is often assumed that pesticides are the only chemicals that pose a risk to the health of the agricultural worker. Modern farming practices often require the use of a great diversity of materials such as solvents, oils, paints, detergents, and creosote. Limiting the hazards of such exposure can be accomplished with education and training programs and by employing experienced workers. There is a clear need to provide occupational health care for employees in many branches of the industry. The most important areas of concern are ergonomic design, respiratory diseases, long-term effects of a multitude of chemicals, and improvement of safety.

Byles, Mrs W. P.

The Work of Women Inspectors

In Women in Professions, being the Professional Section of the International Congress of Women

London, T. Fisher Unwin, 1900

Calder, John

The Prevention of Factory Accidents

Longmans, Green, 1899, 325 pp.

Carter, Tim

British Occupational Hygiene Practice 1720–1920

Annals of Occupational Hygiene, 2004, Vol. 48, No. 4, pp. 299–307

The first recognition of the profession of occupational hygienist was preceded by at least 200 years of developments in disease prevention practices in the workplace, many of which could readily be characterised as occupational hygiene. The nature and pace of adoption of these practices depended on the contemporary state of technology, science, medicine and social concern. At first it was a matter of individual initiative and did not depend on quantitative data, but by the second half of the 19th century techniques of measurement for both harmful effects and for exposure were being introduced and official bodies at both national and local level were active. People from a wide range of backgrounds made contributions to disease prevention at work and by 1920 most of the major concepts and practices of current occupational hygiene practice were in place, if only in rather limited settings.

Cherrie, J. W.

The Beginning of the Science Underpinning Occupational Hygiene

Annals of Occupational Hygiene, April 2003, Vol. 47, No. 3, pp. 179–185.

Comments on Sherwood, R. J. and Greenhalgh, D. M. S. A personal air sampler. Annals of Occupational Hygiene. 1960, vol. 2, 127–132. Suggests that this paper is a seminal one for the development of the science of human exposure. Highlights three key elements: the development of the first personal sampling pump and sampling head; the first comparison between personal and static sampling and the first observation of the possible effect of personal sampling on the person being sampled. 26 references.

Clanzy, T. K.

Safety in mines – past, present and future or can we profit from experience?

Mining Technology, Aug. 1979, vol. 61, no. 706, pp. 369–381

Reviews the early history of the coal mining industry and the build up of its legislation, the safety record of two “safest ever” years 1936 and 1977, each representative of a different era of coal production, are compared. Facts gleaned from the annual reports of HM Chief Inspectors of Mines in the intervening period are then discussed and possible disadvantages of current treatment of accidents are mentioned. The paper then directs attention to the importance of the human element and the need for meaningful education, training and instruction of underground personnel if a significant reduction in serious casualties is to be effected.

Cochrane, Rob

Pioneers of Power: The story of the London Electric Supply Corporation 1887–1948

London Electricity Board, 1987, 48 pages

1987 marked the hundredth year anniversary of the scheme to give London its first ever major supply of electricity. The scheme, by a small group of men who staked their reputations and vast sums of money on such a revolutionary scheme. The risks were enormous. Lighting by “the new electricity” had only arrived a few years before. The scarce public supplies came from tiny power plants in sheds and basements, the biggest serving just 300 customers. The project was on a scale never before attempted in this or any other country. The whole scheme was based on the unproven beliefs of a 23 year old engineer - Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti which went far beyond scientific knowledge of that time.

Cook, Nick

Hazardous Histories: Part I PDF Document

Safety Express (RoSPA), July/August 2012, pp. 10–11

In the first of two articles on dangerous conditions workers faced throughout history, the author explores some of the risks to health and safety experienced by our prehistoric ancestors up to the Tudor Age.

Cook, Nick

Hazardous Histories: Part II PDF Document

Safety Express (RoSPA), September/October 2012, pp. 10–11

In the second of two articles on dangerous conditions workers faced throughout history, the author explores some of the treacherous conditions faced by the Elizabethans up to the present day.

Cook, Nick

The Union Safety Rep: A very short history PDF Document

Safety Express (RoSPA), September/October, 2013, pp. 10–11

Explores the origins of the trade union health and safety representative.

Cooke-Taylor, R. W. (H.M. Inspector of Factories)

The Factory System and The Factory Acts

London, Methuen, 1894, 184 pp.

Crabtree, John Henry

A Guide for Students Preparing for the Examination for an Appointment as Inspector of Factories and Workshops

London Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1898

Crook, Tom and Esbester, Mike, editors

Governing Risks in Modern Britain: Danger, Safety and Accidents, c. 1800–2000

Palgrave Macmillan, 2016, 315 pp.

ISBN 9781137467454

For more than 200 years, everyday life in Britain has been beset by a variety of dangers, from the mundane to the life-threatening. Governing Risks in Modern Britain focuses on the steps taken to manage these dangers and to prevent accidents since approximately 1800. It brings together cutting-edge research to help us understand the multiple and contested ways in which dangers have been governed. It demonstrates that the category of ‘risk’, broadly defined, provides a new means of historicising some key developments in British society. Chapters explore road safety and policing, environmental and technological dangers, and occupational health and safety. The book thus brings together practices and ideas previously treated in isolation, situating them in a common context of risk-related debates, dilemmas and difficulties. Doing so, it argues, advances our understanding of how modern British society has been governed and helps to set our risk-obsessed present in some much needed historical perspective.

Crooks, Eddie

The Factory Inspectors: A Legacy of the Industrial Revolution

NPI Media Group, November 2005, 222 pp. (Paperback)

ISBN 0752435698

Describes the development of political reform and health and safety legislation, and documents the changes in industry across the nineteenth century, through the First World War, with the development of the chemical industry in the twentieth century, and the more recent approaches to the subject and changes wrought from the European Community.

Republished with revised title:

The Unrelenting Machine: A legacy of the Industrial Revolution (revised title)

Lulu Press Inc., 2011, 204 pp.

ISBN 9781471637773

Curry, Norah

My wartime experiences in HMFI

An account of the life of a Factory Inspector during the Second World War.

Deane, Lucy A. E.

Diary of Lucy Deane

Lucy A. E. Deane Streatfield Papers, Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick, Mss 69

Delaney, Brian

The Work of HM Nuclear Installations Inspectorate: Rough Guide to the Nuclear Industry

(HM Principal Inspector of Nuclear Installations, Health and Safety Executive)

Health and Safety Executive, 19 May 2009 1 - B Delaney.pdf

Derry, Thomas Kingston and Williams, Trevor I.

A Short History of Technology from Earliest Times to A.D. 1900

Oxford University Press, 1960, 783 pages

ISBN 019881231 0

Chronologically, the text is divided into two parts, the first telling the story up to ca. 1750 A. D. – the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in Britain – and the second continuing it up to 1900. The book begins with a general historical survey of ancient civilizations, then goes on to consider such topics as food production, metalworking, building construction, early sources of power and the beginning of the chemical industry. The second and lengthier portion of the text focuses on the development of the steam engine, machine tools, modern transport, mining coal and metals, the rise of the modern chemical industry, textiles, the internal combustion engine, electricity and more.

Djang, T. K.

Factory Inspection in Great Britain

London, George Allen and Unwin, 1942

Studies in Political Science and Sociology 2

Duckering, G. E.

The Cause of Lead Poisoning in the Tinning of Metals

Journal of Hygiene, 1908, Vol. 8, No. 4, pp. 474–503

The cause of lead (7439921) poisoning in workers employed in tinning metals with a mixture of lead and tin (7440315) was studied in England. Laboratory experiments were conducted to determine probable sources of lead contamination. An atmospheric sampler was devised to collect the fumes generated. The tinning process was duplicated in the laboratory and the deposited metals were analysed chemically. The air was similarly sampled in workplaces using an open bath for dipping articles under good or poor natural ventilation. The use of a respirator containing glass wool was evaluated. These procedures were repeated to determine the lead generated by the process of wiping the dipped articles. Samples of dust generated in the tinning work shop were studied for composition. In the laboratory it was shown that the atmosphere could be contaminated with lead in the tinning process. Tin entered the atmosphere more readily than lead. The mechanical action of escaping vapour was a factor in air contamination but chemical action was more important. Condensed fumes consisted of the chlorides of lead, zinc (7440666), iron (7439896), hydrochloric-acid (7647010), and tin-oxide (1332292). In the workshops hydrochloric-acid and the chlorides of lead, zinc, iron, and tin were present in the atmosphere. Concentrations were high around the open bath though good ventilation reduced them. Wiping was more dangerous in terms of lead exposure than dipping. A respirator was of little use since it was quickly clogged. Dusts contained significant amounts of chlorides and oxides of lead, tin, and zinc, smaller amounts of copper (7440508) and trace amounts of arsenic (7440382). The author concludes that considerable amounts of lead are released in the tinning process. Use of a respirator is not feasible. The chemical action of materials used in tinning is the most important cause of metal release.

Duckering, G. E.

The Government Wool Disinfecting Station

UK, HMSO, 1933, Cmd. 4377. In “Annual report of the UK Chief Inspector of Factories for the year 1932”, pp. 76–81

Reviews the history of the station set up to help enforce anthrax legislation.

Duckering, G. E.

Report of the working of the disinfection scheme for wool and hair

UK, HMSO, 1925

Duckering, G. E.

Report on determinations of dust in the air in the processes preparatory to the manufacture of wool, goat hair and camel hair

1913, 17 pp.

Duckering, G. E.

Special Report... on methods of determination of dust and lead in the air of workrooms

UK, HMSO, 1911

Ford, Isabella O.

Women as Factory Inspectors and Certifying Surgeons

Investigation Papers No. 4 Manchester, Women’s Co-operative Guild, 1898

Gowers Committee

Report on Health Welfare and Safety in Non-Industrial Employment

MAFF documents created / held by MAFF 1949 (MAF 47, 228, 284 series)

N.B. Not available digitally, only on request from the National Archives:

Gwynn, Stephen and Tuckwell, Gertrude

Life of Sir Charles Dilke, vol. 2

London, John Murray, 1917

Haldane, J. S.

The action of carbonic oxide on man

J Physiol; 1895, 18: 430–62.

Haldane, J. S.

The air of mines

In Oliver, T., editor. Dangerous Trades. London: John Murray. 1902, pp. 540–56.

Haldane, J. S.; Lorrain Smith J.

The physiological effects of air vitiated by respiration

J Pathol Bacteriol; 1893, 1: 168–86.

Haldane, J. S.; Martin, J. S.

Report to the secretary of state for the home department on the health of Cornish miners

Home Office, HMSO, 1904, 108 pp. Cd. 2091

Hale, A. R.

The Role of HM Inspectors of Factories with Particular Reference to their Training (covers 1833–1978) (Thesis)

University of Aston in Birmingham, 1978, 403 pp.

Full text available: (54 MB)

Also available from the British Library: (System number: 014723329)

Hall, Stanley

Railway Detectives: The 150-year Saga of the Railway Inspectorate

Shepperton: Ian Allen Ltd, 1990, 148 pp

ISBN 0711019290


Agricultural Machinery

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. W. M. F. Vane)

House of Commons Debate, HC Deb, 28 June 1962, volume 661, cc 1514-29

Harrison, Amy

The Inspection of Women’s Workshops in London: A Study in Factory Legislation

Economic Review, London, January 1901

Harvie, Christopher; Martin, Graham; Scharf, Aaron, editors

Industrialisation and culture 1830-1914

Published by Macmillan for The Open University Press, First Edition 1970, 460 pages

ISBN 333 117026

Covers: The Mechanical Age; The face of the Country; Machinery; Power, Industries and Enterprises; Communications; Transition; Responses; Prophets and Sceptics; Religion and Materialist Philosophy; The Great Exhibition; Art and Design; John Ruskin; William Morris; Looking Forward; Literature

Hasson, F.

150th Anniversary of HMFI (Her Majesty’s Factory Inspectorate): Historical Report

1983, various paging

Health and Safety Executive

Brief History of the Factory Inspectorate from 1833–1974

HMSO, 1975, ISBN 0101632207, Cmnd. 6322

Covers: history of early factory legislation; first medical inspector; first electrical inspector; transfer from the Home Office; the Offices, Shops and Railway Premises Act 1963; the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

In Annual Report of HM Chief Inspector of Factories, 1974, pp. 104–108

Health and Safety Executive

The Changing Nature of Occupational Health

Contributions marking the centenary of the appointment of Dr. Thomas Legge as the first Medical Inspector of Factories.

HSE Books P.O. Box 1999, Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 6FS, United Kingdom, Dec. 1998. 348 pp. Illus. Bibl. ref

Topics: age distribution; atmospheric pollution; epidemiology; future trends; history; mental health; musculoskeletal diseases; occupational diseases; occupational medicine; research; responsibilities of employers; social aspects; stress factors; unemployment; United Kingdom; work time schedules etc.

Health and Safety Executive

Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Factories 1833–1983: Essays to Commemorate 150 years of health and safety inspection

HMSO, 1983, 75 pp., ISBN 0118837117

Health and Safety Executive

A Hundred Years of Law: Health and Safety in Quarries PDF Document

Health and Safety Executive, 1995, 24 pp.

Foreword by Eric Darlow, former head of HM Inspectorate of Quarries.

Health and Safety Executive

75th Anniversary 1986 Buxton

(Health and Safety Executive’s Laboratories)

Buxton, 1986, various paging

Holcombe, L.

Victorian ladies at work: Middle class working women in England and Wales 1850–1914

UK, Newton Abbott, David and Charles, 1974

Holland, C.

The mortality sufferings and diseases of grinders

London: Robert Tyas, 1843

Hunter, Donald

Hunter’s Diseases of Occupations

Tenth Edition, October 2010, CRC Press, 1324 pp.

ISBN 9780340941669

Edited by Peter J. Baxter, Tar-Ching Aw, Anne Cockcroft, Paul Durrington and J. Malcolm Harrington

In the five decades since its first publication, Hunter’s Diseases of Occupations has remained the pre-eminent text on diseases and disorders caused by work, universally recognized as the most authoritative source of information in the field. It is an important guide for doctors in all disciplines who may encounter occupational diseases in their practice, covering topics as diverse as work and stress, asbestos-related disease, working at high altitude and major chemical incidents, many of which are highly topical.

The tenth Edition of Hunter’s Diseases of Occupations has been fully revised and updated, presenting all practitioners considering an occupational cause for a patient’s condition with comprehensive coverage of work-related diseases as they present in modern and developing industrialised societies. It draws on the wide-ranging and in-depth clinical knowledge and experience, and academic excellence, of top experts in the field. This companion website offers purchasers of the tenth edition of Hunter’s Diseases of Occupations free access to Donald Hunter’s original introductory chapters from the early editions of the title, to all the images from this latest edition, including some in full colour, and to a selection of over 350 photographs and illustrations taken from Donald Hunter’s personal collection – a resource unique to this publication.

Hutchins, B. Leigh

Women in Modern Industry

London, G. Bell, 1915

Hutchins, B. Leigh; Harrison, A.

A History of Factory Legislation

London, P. S. King and Son, 1903, 372 pp.

London, P. S. King, 1911, 2nd. rev. ed, 298 pp.

Taylor and Francis, 1966, 3rd edition, ISBN 9780714613246, 316 pp.

Hutter, Bridget M.

Compliance: Regulation and Environment

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997, 302 pp.

ISBN 0198264755

Hutter, Bridget M.

Regulation and Risk: Occupational Health and Safety on the Railways

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001, 376 pp.

ISBN 019924250X

Hyde, Paul; Reeve, Paul

Essentials of Environmental Management

Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), 2012 (Third Edition), 312 pp.

ISBN 9780901357489

The International Council of Women of 1899

Report of the past five years’ work of the National Union of Women Workers of Great Britain and Ireland

London, T. Fisher Unwin, 1900, pp. 108–12

International Labour Office

Factory Inspection: Historical Development and Present Organisation in Certain Countries

Geneva, International Labour Office, 1923

Jenkins, Roy

Asquith: Portrait of a Man and an Era

New York, Chilmark Press, 1964

John, A. V.

Coalmining Women: Victorian Lives

Cambridge University Press, 1984, 44 pp.

ISBN 0521278724

Jones, H.

Women Health Workers: The case of the first women factory inspectors in Britain

Social History of Medicine, August 1988, vol. 1, no. 2

Kaufman, C. D.

The influence of trade unions on health and safety at work (Thesis)

University of Aston in Birmingham, 1985

Available from the British Library: (System number: 011685881)

Legge, T. M.

Industrial maladies

Oxford: Oxford Medical. 1934

Legge, T. M.

Trinitrotoluene poisoning

Chief Inspector of Factories Annual Report 1917. London: HMSO. pp. 21–4.

Legge, T. M.; Duckering, G. E.

A Report on the Method of steam disinfection of horsehair and bristles required under German Regulations in horsehair factories

1922, 20 pp.

Held at the UK National Archives, Kew, London. Reference number LAB 46.

Legge, T. M.; Goadby, K.

Lead poisoning and lead absorption: the symptoms, pathology and prevention, with special reference to their industrial origin and an account of the principle processes involving risk

London: Edward Arnold, 1912.

Lewis, Peter R.

Disaster on the Dee: Robert Stephenson’s Nemesis of 1847

Describes many key investigations made by the Inspectorate.

The History Press, February 2007, 224 pp.

ISBN: 9780752442662

Lewis, Peter R.

Wheels to Disaster: The Oxford train wreck of Christmas Eve 1874

Describes the early history of the Inspectorate.

The History Press, July 2008, 224 pp.

ISBN: 9780752445120

Locke, John H.

Provision of information and advice for the protection of health and safety at work

Aslib Proceedings, 1976, Vol. 28, Issue 1, pp. 8–16

Governments of all major industrialized communities are steadily extending the areas in which they seek to regulate the day-to-day activities of ordinary people. This raises important problems. This raises important problems in ensuring that people know what is being required of them. I shall in this paper be describing these problems as we see them in the new Health and Safety Executive (HSE). But after spending thirty years in various jobs in the public service I am sure that the problems facing us are similar to those which arise in many other fields.

London Metropolitan University and the Trades Union Congress (TUC)

The Union Makes Us Strong: TUC History Online

London Metropolitan University and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) partnership initiative offering access to a bank of historical images and documents relating to the history of the trade union movement. The site is splits into 5 major areas beginning with a Timeline which is an interactive journey through the last 200 years of union history. The TUC Library Collections, which transferred to the University of North London (now the London Metropolitan University) in September 1996, were first established in 1922 for the use of the Trades Union Congress and affiliated unions. They contain books, pamphlets and other material collected from unions, pressure groups and campaign movements both in the UK and internationally since the second half of the 19th century. The TUC continues to add material acquired after 1996 on a regular basis. They constitute a major research library in the social sciences, with reference and historical works on the trade union movement, union publications, documents relating to working conditions and industrial relations in various industries, and material collected from the various campaigns and policy areas in which the TUC has been involved since its foundation in 1868. A major strength of the Library is the large collection of pamphlets and other ephemera, which have survived here as in few other comparable libraries.

Long, Vicky

The Rise and Fall of the Healthy Factory: The Politics of Industrial Health in Britain, 1914–60

The first account of the emergence and demise of preventive health care for workers. It explores how trade unions, employers, doctors and the government reconfigured the relationship between health, productivity and the factory over the course of the twentieth century within a broader political, industrial and social context.

Basingstoke, UK, Palgrave MacMillan, 2011

ISBN 9780230283718

Luckin, Roger; Cooter, Bill

Accidents in History: Injuries, Fatalities and Social Relations

There is now an extensive literature on the social and environmental consequences of living in the risk society. Studies of trauma are also increasingly prominent. But scant attention has been paid to perceptions of risk and danger in the past - in particular, to the history of accidents and the meanings of the accidental. This collection of interdisciplinary essays addresses this lacuna providing a theoretically informed historical sociology of the accident and risk. It explores the social and cultural contexts in which 'acts of God', calamities, catastrophes, disasters, injuries, casualties, and other category of 'mishaps' were experienced, conceptualized and responded to. Drawing on the skills of British, European and North American scholars, Accidents in History combines philosophical, sociological and ecological overviews with in-depth historical case-studies. It spans the period from the eighteenth century to the present, probing the epistemological, social and political roots of the accidental. The authors differentiate between industrial and other forms of injury; trace the origins of the normalization of accidents; and analyze the interactions and gendered discrepancies between domestic and non-domestic mishaps. They also investigate the medicalisation of sudden injury, and discuss the emergence of new socio-medical and humanitarian discourses around the organization of relief for victims.

Amsterdam, Rodopi, January 1997, 273 pp.

ISBN 9789042000933

McFeely, Mary Drake

Lady Inspectors. The Campaign for a Better Workplace 1893–1921

Basil Blackwell, 1988, 200 pp.

ISBN 15557860025

McIvor, Arthur

Working Lives: Work in Britain since 1945

Palgrave MacMillan, July 2013, 360 pp.

ISBN 9781137341174

McIvor, Arthur; Johnston, Ronald

Miners’ Lung: A History of Dust Disease in British Coal Mining

The book argues that British coalmining was the “classic dangerous trade”, and even those that escape the immediate dangers of the pit mine collapses, explosions, suffocation) may be subject to years of pain, laboured breathing and eventual death. McIvor and Johnston relate the story of how the dust created by the picks, hammers, and pneumatic tools “crept deep into the lungs of the otherwise powerfully built, healthy workers, eventually incapacitating them, ruining their bodies and killing them. Explores the experience of coal miners’ lung diseases and the attempts at voluntary and legal control of dusty conditions in British mining from the late nineteenth century to the present. In this way, the book addresses the important issues of occupational health and safety within the mining industry; issues that have been severely neglected in studies of health and safety in general. The authors examine the prevalent diseases, notably pneumoconiosis, emphysema and bronchitis, and evaluate the roles of key players such as the doctors, management and employers, the state and the trade unions.

Aldershot, UK, Ashgate, 2007

ISBN 9780754636731

Manchester Guardian

A Hundred Years of the Factory Acts

July 1932

Markham, Violet R.

May Tennant: A Portrait

London, Falcon Press, 1949

Markham, Violet R.

Return Passage: The Autobiography of Violet R. Markham

London, Oxford University Press, 1953

Martindale, Hilda

From One Generation to Another, 1893–1944

London, George Allen and Unwin, 1944

Martindale, Hilda

Some Victorian Portraits and Others

London, George Allen and Unwin, 1948

Martindale, Hilda

Women Servants of the State, 1870–1938. A History of Women in the Civil Service

London, George Allen and Unwin, 1938

Mattey, David

History of Occupational Safety and Health in Agriculture

Development of the Agricultural Inspectorate (The Early Years)

MIDAS Memories: 50th Anniversary of the Foot and Mouth Disease Outbreak 1967/68

May, Ken R.

A Personal note on the history of the cascade impactor

Journal of Aerosol Society, 1982, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 37–47

Covers the efficacy of droplet clouds produced by exploding charges of various unpleasant liquids contained in high explosive shells.

Full text (scanned):

Mess, H. A.

Factory Legislation and Its Administration 1891–1924

London, 1926

Metzler, Irina; Wustemann, Louis

Past Imperfect

Health and Safety at Work, December 2014, pp. 18–21

Chronicles the prehistory of health and safety, from occupational disease to personal protective equipment (PPE). Contains illustrations from Georgius Agricola’s De Re Metallica.

National Joint Advisory Council, Industrial Safety Sub Committee

Industrial Accident Prevention: Report PDF Document

Dame Mary Smieton, Chair

London, Ministry of Labour and National Service, 1956, 43 pp.

The National Joint Advisory Council, Industrial Safety Sub Committee was appointed mid-1954 to examine problems of accidents at work to workers in factories and others subjected to the Factories Acts. The report makes a number of recommendations regarding research, education in universities, colleges and schools, further training, information and advice that was available at the time. It looks at the work of the Factory Inspectorate.

Nichols, Theo; Armstrong, Peter J.

Safety or Profit: Industrial Accidents and the Conventional Wisdom

Bristol, Falling Wall Press, 1973, 32 pp.

Available from the British Library: (System number: 010547108)

Ogden, Trevor

Annals of Occupational Hygiene at Volume 50: Many Achievements, a Few Mistakes, and an Interesting Future

Annals of Occupational Hygiene, 2006, Vol. 50, No. 8, 751–764

The past 10 years have seen a doubling of the number of papers submitted to the Annals, and a 5-fold increase in the number of institutions with access to the journal. Electronic access is now far more important than print access. Papers from British authors dominated the first 20 years of the journal, but the rest of Europe is now more important, with Scandinavia and The Netherlands being the major continental sources. North America is the other major source. For British papers, there has been a big growth in government authors, and a decline in papers from industry and armed forces. From many possible topics, trends are selectively reviewed in: standards and exposure limits; measurement methods and criteria; sampling strategy and statistics; fibres; control banding; dermal exposure; and evaluation of control. For the future, we will continue to have the same aims and standards, but the changes of the past few years, and the growth of new approaches such as open access, have emphasized the difficulty of forecasting. The growth in submissions from countries which we presently regard as ‘developing’, and especially the growth in higher education in China, and the amount of occupational disease there, are bound to have major impacts. Perhaps the English language will not continue to dominate scientific publishing, but in any case an eastward shift in the source of papers must lead to other changes.

Ogden, Trevor

So Long, and Thanks for all the Papers

Annals of Occupational Hygiene, 2012, Vol. 56, No. 9, 977–984

Witnessing a Revolution – Although editors should control their vanity, I am going to use this last issue as Editor of Annals of Occupational Hygiene to indulge myself with reflection on what has happened during my tenure. When I took over the Annals at short notice in 1997, scientific journals were about 350 years old in a recognizable form: scientists would send in a report of their findings, which would be evaluated by trusted senior scientists, and if the contribution was felt worthwhile, it would be printed in a periodical that individuals and libraries would buy. We did not realize in 1997 that the next 6 or 7 years would see a revolution in this process equal to any in the previous 350 years.

In 1997, our instructions told authors to send in three paper copies of their submission, typed on one side of the paper, double-spaced, and with wide margins. They could send a floppy disk as well, but this was optional. Charts and graphs had to be ‘carefully drawn in black ink on tracing linen, Bristol board or stout white paper’. We would mail two of the three copies to external experts, who would be asked to comment (much as they are now), or, if they could not, they were asked to mail back their copy and we would try to find someone else. That is the way it was done.

There was some concern about the future, mainly because, like many other journals, our commercial subscriptions were decreasing at a few per cent a year. Also, the journal was relatively unknown in the USA, and there was no prospect of penetrating much further into that important research market when there were two American occupational hygiene journals. The Annals had been published for the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) by the same commercial publisher for about 40 years (although the original firm had been taken over in the early 1990s). When everything was added up, BOHS probably lost money on the journal. The publishing contract did not allow us to see the accounts, and we assumed that the publisher did not make much profit either. Each year, the publisher proposed to BOHS an increase in the subscription price which more than covered the decline in numbers, and BOHS agreed. Clearly, this procedure could not work forever, but there seemed to be little we could do about it, and meanwhile the papers came in and we processed them.

The article covers the various stages of development and progress in publishing of the next 15 years as Editor of the Annals until 2012. Note that Figures 5 and 6 are interesting more broadly.

Oliver, Thomas, editor

Dangerous Trades: The Historical, Social and Legal Aspects of Industrial Occupations as Affecting Health, by a Number of Experts

New York, Dutton, 1902

Oliver, Thomas and Thorpe, T. E.

Report to Her Majesty’s Principal Secretary of States for the Home Department on the Employment of Compounds of Lead in the Manufacturer of Pottery

C. 9207 1899

Reprinted British Parliamentary Paper: Industrial Revolution: Factories, vol. 31

Shann: Irish University Press, 1971

Owen, D. B.

Safety and health in mines: The rise of bureaucracy in the coal mining industry and its results as evidenced by the public enquiry into an accident at Houghton Main Colliery (Thesis)

University of Aston in Birmingham, 1978, 192 pp.

Available from the British Library: (System number: 014734006)

Paterson, Mary M.

Obituary: Distinguished Scotwoman, Mary M. Paterson

Glasgow Herald, 11 June 1941

Piney, Mark

The development of chemical exposure limits for the workplace (Focus on the UK and USA includes historical and social context) (Thesis)

University of Aston in Birmingham, 1989

Available from the British Library: (System number: 008465108)

Plom, Alan

Back to their roots PDF Document

Express Magazine, (the Health and Safety Executive house magazine), February 2007, pp. 8–9

Article written in 2007 celebrating the 50th anniversary of the formation of the HM Agricultural Inspectorate and also the 60th anniversary of MIDAS, the informal association of ex agriculture inspectors and others who have supported them.

Rhodes, Gerald

Inspectorates in British Government: Law Enforcement and Standards of Efficiency

London, George Allen and Unwin, 1981

Rolt, L. T. C.

Red for Danger: The Classic History of British Railway Disasters

Sutton Publishing Ltd, November 1998 (New Edition), 287 pp.

ISBN: 9780750920476

Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

The RoSPA Inquiry into Apprentices: A report on the outcome of the consultation exercise to RoSPA’s National Occupational Safety and Health Committee

by Howard Fidderman, May 2016, 31 pages

As part of its role in helping RoSPA to deliver its mission – “to save lives and reduce injuries” – the charity’s National Occupational Safety and Health Committee (NOSHC) has instigated an inquiry into health and safety arrangements for apprentices. In December 2015, NOSHC launched a consultation exercise and, in this report, we look at the views of our respondents on: what is working well; the main “gaps”; and what more could be done. The report is intended as an initial look to stimulate further debate.

Ross, Pam

Jack recalls tragic blaze that killed mum

Keighley News, 24 February 2006

Royal Commission on Labour

The Employment of Women

Parliamentary Papers 1893–94, XXIII, C. 6894

Self, Peter; Storing, Herbert J.

The State and the Farmer

George Allen and Unwin, 1962, 1st edition

ISBN: 0043380328

Contains: Chapter V1 ‘Partnership in Field’, by Peter Self and Herbert J. Storing, pp. 139–156

Shaw, S.

History of the Staffordshire potteries

Hanley: Jackson. 1829 [Reprinted 1970. Newton Abbot: David and Charles. ISBN 0715348892]

Sirrs, Christopher

Accidents and Apathy: The Construction of the “Robens Philosophy” of Occupational Safety and Health Regulation in Britain, 1961–1974

Social History of Medicine, 2016, Vol. 29, No. 1, pp. 66–88

The 1972 Robens Report is widely regarded to have provided the underlying rationale for the ‘modern’ system of occupational health and safety regulation in Britain, embodied in the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSW Act) 1974. The HSW Act advanced a new, more flexible system of regulation, premised on the ideal of self-regulation by industry. This article advances a more nuanced historical understanding of the Report and its ethos – the ‘Robens philosophy’ – than hitherto developed, situating its assumptions about accidents, regulation and the role of the state in the social, economic and political context of Britain in the 1960s and early 1970s. Highlighting the interaction between these trends and long-established regulatory practices, the article argues that the turn to ‘self-regulation’ heralded by the Robens Report was highly convincing from a political and regulatory perspective at the time it was promulgated. (Open access)

Sirrs, Christopher

Risk, Responsibility and Robens: The Transformation of the British System of Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, 1961–1974

In Governing Risks in Modern Britain: Danger, Safety and Accidents, c. 1800–2000, ed. Tom Crook and Mike Esbester (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), pp. 249–76. ISBN 9781137467447

For more than 200 years, everyday life in Britain has been beset by a variety of dangers, from the mundane to the life-threatening. Governing Risks in Modern Britain focuses on the steps taken to manage these dangers and to prevent accidents since approximately 1800. It brings together cutting-edge research to help us understand the multiple and contested ways in which dangers have been governed. It demonstrates that the category of ‘risk’, broadly defined, provides a new means of historicising some key developments in British society. Chapters explore road safety and policing, environmental and technological dangers, and occupational health and safety. The book thus brings together practices and ideas previously treated in isolation, situating them in a common context of risk-related debates, dilemmas and difficulties. Doing so, it argues, advances our understanding of how modern British society has been governed and helps to set our risk-obsessed present in some much needed historical perspective.

Sirrs, Christopher

Health and Safety in the British Regulatory State, 1961–2001: The HSC, HSE and the Management of Occupational Risk

Ph.D Thesis, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, 2016

This thesis engages with recent historical scholarship on occupational health and safety by analysing the conditions that shaped the development of British health and safety regulation between 1961 and 2001. Drawing upon a rich vein of archival material as well as oral history interviews, the thesis focuses on the role played by two regulatory bodies, the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) and Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in generating and enforcing this framework of laws and standards. The thesis illuminates two major historical trends. Firstly, it explores the gradual transformation of the British state in its role as health and safety regulator. Since 1974, the focus of British regulation has been to promote ‘self-regulation’ by employers and employees, and the thesis analyses the ways in which HSC/E has attempted to foster a ‘safety culture’ in British industry, in the context of social, political and economic pressures. Secondly, the thesis analyses the evolution of risk in health and safety regulation, from implicit assumptions and practices in policymaking and enforcement, to the formal demand for all employers to conduct written risk assessments. In so doing, the thesis reconciles various paradoxes. One such paradox is that while the role of the British state in regulating health and safety has ostensibly ‘rolled back’ (e.g. via deregulation), health and safety has in another sense ‘crept forward’, extending beyond the workplace to intervene in public safety and environmental issues. Another paradox is that while British health and safety legislation has been ostensibly ‘successful’ in reducing fatal workplace accidents, it has come under unprecedented public and political scrutiny in recent years. Examining the evolution of health and safety against an extensive theoretical background (e.g. the ‘risk society’), 16 the thesis explains how health and safety has become increasingly central to our work and public lives. (Open access)

Soffe, Richard J.

The Agricultural Notebook

Wiley-Blackwell, January 2003, 20th Edition, 768 pages, ISBN: 978-0-632-05829-7

Contains: Chapter 15 – Health and Safety in Agriculture (pp. 360–367) which covers: Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974; Basic Statutory regulations of HSW Act; Effects of European Directives Other significant Regulations; Food and Environmental Protection Act 1985 and Conclusions.

Soldon, Norbert C.

Women in British Trade Unions, 1874–1976

Dublin, Gill and MacMillan, 1978

Squire, Rose E.

Thirty years in the Public Service: an Industrial Retrospect

London, Nisbet, 1927

Strong, G. R.

History of the Institution of Mining Engineers 1889–1989

Institution of Mining Engineers, 1988, 117 pp.

ISBN 0904905144

Tabb, C. V. and Malins Smith, K., editors

Recollections of some former inspectors of factories

Private Printing

Tennant, May

The Women’s Factory Department

Fortnightly, n.s. 64, July–December 1898, pp. 146–56

Tennant, May

Obituary of May Tennant

The Times, 12 July 1946

Thackrah, C. T.

The effects of the principal arts, trades, and professions, and of civic states and habits of living, on health and longevity

London: Longmans, 1831. First Edition

Full text available: Open Library

Thackrah, C. T.

The effects of arts, trades, and professions, and of civic states and habits of living, on health and longevity

London: Longmans, 1832. Second Edition. [Reprinted 1989. London: WH Smith.]

Full text available: Hathi Trust Digital Library

Thwaite, B. H.

Our Factories, Workshops, and Warehouses, their Sanitary and Fire-Resisting Arrangements Factories

London, Spon, 1882, 270 pp.

The Times

100 Years of Factory Law

July 1932

Mill Fire Started by Blow-lamp

Friday, 23 March 1956

Factory Fire Rules

Saturday, 19 May 1956

Tuckwell, Gertrude M.

Constance Smith: A short memoir

London, Duckworth, 1931

Tuckwell, Gertrude M. and Smith, Constance

The Worker’s Handbook

London, Duckworth, 1908

Vynne, Nora and Blackburn, Helen

Women under the Factory Act

London, Williams and Norgate, 1903

Waterhouse, Peter

Employment National Training Organisation (ENTO)

November 1998, 8 pp.

Weindling, Paul (Editor)

The Social History of Occupational Health

London, Croom Helm, 1985, 267 pp.

Available from the British Library: (System number: 007393071)

Wilson, Graham K.

The Politics of Safety and Health: Occupational Safety and Health in the United States and Britain

A comparison of the efforts made by Britain and the USA to reduce the number of accidents and illnesses caused by work.

Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1985, 179 pp.

ISBN 9780198274681

Available from the British Library: (System number: 012602171)

Wilson, G. S.

Farm safety

British Journal of Industrial Medicine, 1966, Vol. 23, pp. 1–15

Accident and safety are related terms; the higher the accident rate in any industry, the greater is the need for safety measures designed to prevent accidents. This article discusses the accident and safety problems in agriculture, which includes horticulture and forestry.

There is still a tendency among townspeople to think of the countryside as peaceful and tranquil, a place where nothing happens very quickly and far removed from violent death or crippling injury. This pleasant rustic picture has undergone a striking change in the last 30 years owing to considerable agricultural mechanisation and the development of chemical pesticides, which have brought new dangers to those who live and work on the land.

Although men have readily adapted themselves to new machines and methods, they have not proved as able to recognize new dangers and learn how to guard against them. In consequence, accidents have increased to such an extent that the whole industry has realized the need for positive preventive measures.

In the United Kingdom, it is generally accepted that an employer of labour has a responsibility to provide safe working conditions for those he employs. Farm safety legislation goes a little further and usually requires an employer to provide necessary safeguards, with the added requirement on a worker to make use of them.

It is a feature of accident prevention work that it never reaches a stage when it can be regarded as complete. Even when a reduction in accidents has been achieved, the effort must be sustained or the trend will be quickly reversed.

Wilson, G. S.

Safety, Health and Welfare in Agriculture

Annals of Occupational Hygiene, 1969, Vol. 12, pp. 129–135

The development of regulations to safeguard the agricultural worker began in 1946 when the government set up an independent committee to examine and recommend measures relating to the safety, health and welfare of persons in the industry. Regulations now exist to protect agricultural workers against a number of the special risks to which they are exposed. Descriptions are given of the most important Acts, and of other means by which the UK Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food hope to reduce and prevent accidents on the farm. Likely future developments and the safety problems they will present are considered.

DOI: 10.1093/annhyg/12.2.129

Yeandle, Susan

Women of Courage

Editorial Consultant: Sheila Pantry OBE

Health and Safety Executive

London, HMSO, 1993, 130 pp.

ISBN 0118863738

Identifies the changing and challenging role of Lady Inspectors, as they were first called, over the first 100 years. The first two were appointed on 5 May 1893. This book celebrates the centenary of these appointments, and acknowledges the contribution made by women inspectors.

Zimmeck, Meta

Strategies and Stratagems for the Employment of Women in the British Civil Service 1919–1939

Historical Journal 27, 1984, pp. 901–24

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