The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

Tuesday 8 July, 13.00–17.30

Faculty Meeting Room, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, 15–17 Tavistock Place, London WC1H 9SH

The 40th anniversary of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 in July 2014 offers an unprecedented opportunity to illuminate the contemporary history of ‘health and safety’ in Britain: a field of profound significance not only to the health and wellbeing of workers, but to members of the public who can be injured or made ill by work activity.
The afternoon workshop on Tuesday 8 July at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine will bring together experts from the fields of history, epidemiology and policymaking to discuss the historical origins of the Act, how health and safety regulation and risks have evolved in the forty years since the Act was passed, and the challenges policymakers face in the 21st century. The workshop will contribute to scholarship on the post–1974 history of health and safety regulation in Britain, a subject that has been relatively understudied despite the growth of historical interest in occupational health and disease over the past decade.


Session One. Understanding the Post-1974 History of Health and Safety in Britain

13.00   Christopher Sirrs, Ph.D. candidate, Centre for History in Public Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Health and Safety in Britain Since 1974.

13.30   John Rimington, former Director-General, Health and Safety Executive. HSE: Finance, Politics and Identity.

Session Two. Occupational Health

14.00   Professor Julian Peto, Cancer Research UK Chair of Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. The Failure of UK Asbestos Regulation in the 1970s.

14.30   Dr Tim Carter, Former Director of Health Policy, HSE. Occupational Health from EMAS to COSHH.

15.00   BREAK

Session Three. Perceptions and Challenges

15.30   Dr Mike Esbester, Lecturer in History, University of Portsmouth. Buying in to Health and Safety? Perceptions of Legitimacy of Occupational Health and Safety & The 1974 Act.

16.00   Kevin Myers, Acting Chief Executive, HSE. What Did the Robens Ever Do For Us?

16.30   ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION (Chair: Christopher Sirrs, LSHTM).

17.15   Drinks reception (Café and Courtyard, Tavistock Place).


Places for this workshop are limited. To reserve a place, please RSVP by Friday 27 June 2014 to Christopher Sirrs