What is Health and Safety?

If you search for the term “Occupational Health and Safety” Wikipedia tells us:

Occupational safety and health is an area concerned with protecting the safety, health and welfare of people engaged in work or employment. The goals of occupational safety and health programs include fostering a safe and healthy work environment. OSH may also protect co-workers, family members, employers, customers, and many others who might be affected by the workplace environment.

Occupational safety and health can be important for moral, legal, and financial reasons. All organisations have a duty of care to ensure that employees and any other person who may be affected by the companies undertaking remain safe at all times.”

History of Health and Safety

Prior to 1802 they were no recognised health and safety practices in place to protect workers (children, women and men). Then came the Factories Act 1802, where workers tried to push several acts through Parliament to improve the health of the workers and apprentices to improve children’s working conditions in cotton and woollen mills.

It wasn’t until the 1819 Cotton Mills and Factories Act that employers could only employ children over 9 years old and children aged between 9-16 years were limited to working 12 hours per day. In the Factory Act 1833 further restrictions were put in place e.g. children aged between 9-13 years could only work for 8 hours and were given a one hour lunch break; children aged between 14-18 years could not work more than 12 hours a day with a one hour lunch break.

In 1844 a new Factories Act further reduced the hours of work allowed for children and also applied the provisions of the Factory Act of 1833 to women who before this date had no work protection. The Factory Act 1847 and 1874 further limited the workweek in textile mills for women and children under 18 years of age to nine and a half hours.

The Factory and Workshop Act 1878 consolidated all of the previous Acts, applying the Factory Code to all trades. No child under the age of 10 could be employed; education was compulsory for children up to 10 years old; 10-14 year olds could only work for half days and women could work no more than 56 hours per week. Next came the Factory Act 1891, which was followed by the Factory, and Workshop Act 1901, in which the minimum working age was raised to 12.

The Factories Act 1961 consolidated legislation on workplace health and safety but today it has largely been superseded by the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 which is now the primary piece of legislation covering occupational health and safety in the UK.

Today’s Health and Safety

If you look back in history and see how Health and Safety awareness and practices have changed over the years it gives us a better understanding of just how fortunate we are today that Health and Safety is taken so seriously (is part of UK law) and provides employers and employees with safe(r) working practices.

About New Broom Training

New Broom Training can work directly with you to fulfil your businesses specific Health and Safety training and provide relevant courses. Contact us on 01795 500816 for further information.