Reducing the Dangers of Dock Work in the UK, 1899-1939: How Past Approaches Could Prevent Future Tragedies

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


This report shows how studying accidents and safety initiatives in the past can help generate guidance to improve safety today. The focus is on the UK docks from 1899 to 1939 – a period which witnessed a substantial reduction in dock deaths from 115 per year to 69 per year. This report draws three main lessons from history:

– Recording the specifics of workplace deaths is important. Precise and comprehensive breakdowns enabled the authorities to identify problems and trends and suggest solutions.
– During the period of improvement inspectors conducted regular visits to the docks to identify hazards and suggest ways of mitigating them – a proactive approach, as opposed to the current focus on reactive inspections following an accident.
– A notable national initiative was the Home Office Industrial Museum intended to educate employers, trade unions and the public about safety measures. A similar set of exhibits today (including online to reach a global audience) setting out the history of safety improvements on UK docks could be an appropriate goal of the Heritage and Education Centre at Lloyd’s Register Foundation and similar organisations.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherLloyd's Register Foundation
Commissioning bodyLloyd's Register Foundation
Number of pages32
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2023

Publication series

NameHindsight Perspectives for a Safer World
PublisherLloyd's Register Foundation


  • docks
  • London
  • health and safety

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