Lois Audrey Pittom BA CB

Born in 1918, Audrey was in fact the last of a long line of Pittoms of Barby near Rugby in Northamptonshire where her forebears had lived since the mid seventeenth century and to where she retired in 1978 to a bungalow she had constructed on land originally belonging to the family. She gained a BA Honours degree at Oxford 1939. Her career in the civil service culminated in a senior role in the newly formed Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in whose formation she played an active and influential part.

She ended her career as director of the Hazardous Substances Division of HSE on 1st July 1978. In 1975 she was appointed the third member of the newly formed HSE board and was succeeded by Dr Ken Duncan in 1978. Audrey was a Member of the Association of University Women which she joined In London in 1966. She remained active in the Association in Northamptonshire until her death in 1990.

It is believed that it was Audrey who, in the drafting of legislation arising from Report of the Robens Committee of 1972, came up with the now universal couplet ‘health and safety’. It was at her insistence that the title of this new Act should indicate a focus on protection of workers from long term health detriments as well as from the more immediate threats posed by accidents.

It would be interesting to know if she was the first to come up with the words ‘health and safety’, now part of the English language. A fitting tribute (if the story is true) to her contribution which few will be aware of.