Plant & Works Engineering
Website charts how the UK is one of the safest places to work and live
Published:  21 January, 2016

The history of occupational health and safety in the UK is being preserved in a website that features more than 200 years of development in workplaces.

A Victorian law stipulating that women and children aged 13-18 could only work 63 hours per week in factories, and another setting out the first compensation structure for injured workers are among those listed on the History of Occupational Safety and Health website -

The website, set up by safety charity the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accident’s (RoSPA) National Occupational Safety and Health Committee (NOSHC), charts more than 200 years of industrial history and was launched to coincide with World Day for Safety and Health at Work, also known as Workers’ Memorial Day.

Already acclaimed in many parts of the world, the website is fast becoming an invaluable resource for students, academics, health and safety professionals and others with a general interest in industrial history. It sets out developments from the 1802 Factory Act to various regulation changes made by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in recent times.

Karen McDonnell, RoSPA’s occupational safety and health policy adviser, said: “Contrary to what some might believe, the management of safety and health at work is not a 21st Century phenomenon. With roots stretching all the way back to the turn of the 19th Century, this is an area at the heart of the UK’s industrial history.

“Numerous pieces of legislation have come on to the scene 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 today to continue to tackle preventable harms associated with work, not just in Britain but around the world.”

Teresa Budworth, chairman of the committe, said: "The site is an invaluable resource for those studying all aspects of occupational safety, health and fire in workplaces for their qualifications. It shows how we have developed systems and good practices over many years. Sheila Pantry, the site's editor, was a pioneer in her field of safety information. The site not only features the pioneering work of the first women factory inspectors but also how safety professionals today stand on the shoulders of giants."

The website provides a wealth of information for those wishing to track the development of occupational safety and health and includes a timeline, details of government reviews, legislation standards and a reading list.

It is not the first time that NOSHC has created a website to mark April 28. Its Workers’ Memorial Day website, launched in 2010, includes information about memorials to those who have been killed or injured at work.