Industry Sectors

As can be seen from the information in the Timeline and Brief History, various industries have emerged – and some have died over the last two hundred years or so.

It is interesting how the role of technology has shaped our world of occupational safety and health – with the subsequent emergence of new pieces of legislation, e.g. machine guarding and also how research has vastly improved our knowledge of the many hazards associated with some of the newer industries – e.g. nanotechnology.

David Eves’ Two steps forward, one step back: A brief history of the origins, development and implementation of health and safety law in the United Kingdom, 1802–2014 also narrates the various political influences and the effects on the many industries.

What is impressive is the knowledge that each industry sector has developed over the years and the resulting guidance and advice that has been produced and shared with other industry sectors.

Over the years machinery developments and ways of manufacturing has resulted in many redundant pieces of equipment that can now be seen in various industry Museums.

For current guidance and advice please look at the Health and Safety Executive’s website A-Z list of industry sectors

More information will be obtained from the industry sectors and added to this website. Anyone who has any industry histories, papers or documents are kindly requested to send them to Sheila Pantry


David Mattey’s History of Occupational Safety and Health in Agriculture charts the development of the Agricultural Inspectorate.

David Mattey has also written MIDAS Memories: 50th Anniversary of the Foot and Mouth Disease Outbreak 1967/68.


National Railway Museum (NRM) York, UK

Railway Work, Life and Death project

This project started in 2016 is about railway worker accidents in the run up to and early years of the First World War 1914-1918. NRM kindly provided a small team of volunteers to get data out of the Board of Trade accident reports and into a spreadsheet, to make it more accessible.

The Railway Work, Life and Death project is making use of accident reports produced by the Railway Inspectorate, the body appointed by the state to oversee railway safety. The reports give details – sometimes rather brief, amounting to only a few hundred words – of investigations into railway worker accidents. We want to unlock the mass of details – some minor, some startling, all significant – they contain, and show how valuable they can be as a means of accessing the experience of working on the railways at the start of the 20th century.

This work is an innovative attempt to build stronger connections between museums, volunteers and academic researchers. It draws upon recent moves towards crowd-sourcing and the idea of ‘citizen scientists’ as interested people freely giving their time, interest and energy to projects that benefit all involved, as well as the wider public.

The project is a great chance not only for the volunteers to contribute to cutting-edge research, but also to shape its direction. Volunteers are doing important work in collating details of the accidents, making them more easily available for everyone, and much more quickly than had it just been one or two people working on the task. At the same time, it’s not just about transcription; we’re also interested in the volunteers’ thoughts and the questions they might have as they read through the reports.

The accident reports are an incredibly rich source, but under used – most people tend to think of passenger accidents on the railways and do not realise that worker accidents were far more numerous. These reports can tell us all sorts of things about working conditions on the railways, relationships between the state, companies and unions, who was involved in accidents and attitudes towards safety. So, we hope that with this project we can change the balance and help people to think about the dangers railway workers experienced in the past.

The intention is that this site and the data will be a valuable resource for all sorts of people – those interested in the history of workplace safety, family historians, museums professionals, academics, OSH professionals and so on.

The project is being run by Dr Mike Esbester, University of Portsmouth, Senior Lecturer in History and Level 4 Year Tutor (overall administration, Milldam, Burnaby Road, Portsmouth PO1 3AS, UK. Email:

And Karen Baker, Librarian, National Railway Museum (NRM), Leeman Road, York, YO26 4XJ, UK