Reinvention, renewal or repetition? the great western railway and occupational safety on Britain’s railways, c.1900-c.1920

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Abstract

In 1913, the Great Western Railway introduced an occupational safety education campaign that appeared to be a radical break with all previous methods of promoting safety in the British industrial workplace. In this paper, I assess the extent to which this “new” campaign reinvented occupational safety education in Britain. I argue that the Great Western combined new techniques of communicating safety messages with the relatively traditional content of those messages. Rather than a simple repetition of previous attempts or an absolute re-invention of safety, “Safety First” was a renewal of existing conceptions of occupational safety education. I examine both the methods of conveying safety messages and the messages themselves, and place the campaign within the broader context of power relationships among union, state, and company.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBusiness and Economic History Online
Volume3
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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