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The Birth of Modern Safety: Preventing Worker Accidents on Britain's Railways, 1871-1948
Foyalty 285

The Birth of Modern Safety: Preventing Worker Accidents on Britain's Railways, 1871-1948 (Hardback)

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Contemporary life in Britain is dominated by discussion of safety, risk and accidents. This monograph is the first to explore the history of modern safety culture in Britain and the evolution of ideas of accident prevention. It focuses on the railway industry between approximately 1871 (the date of the first specific state intervention in railway employee safety) and 1948 (the date at which the railways were nationalised). This period shows extremely important and far-reaching changes in how people dealt with safety and accident during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The railway industry was one of the first to introduce safety education into Britain. This study charts the shift from state legislative intervention and formal, punitive measures that required railway workers to be safe, to the introduction of an informal, accessible safety education campaign, which tried to persuade workers to act safely. Using visually attractive items - including posters, booklets, leaflets, and films - people were shown what to do and what not to do. How this happened, and the uses to which safety education and accident prevention have been put have not been examined. The book will draw upon and develop relevant insights from business history, labour history the history of occupational health and safety, and medical history. Readers will find particular value in the analysis of ways in which state, unions, managers and workers interacted to produce dominant understandings of safety.

Mike Esbester is AHRC Early Career Fellow at Oxford Brookes University, UK

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