The industrial revolution in England ushered in a lot of things including the very concept of labour rights. This in turn led employers across the globe to think more about the welfare of employees. The ideas of workers’ health and safety got ingrained in the above transformations and so evolved the concept of occupational health and safety. From a nascent concept back during the industrial revolution, the understandings of hygiene and safety have taken a definitive shape today. However, the changes were no as rapid as some people would like to believe. Let us have a look at the history of its evolution.
The historical importance
The Factory Acts promulgated in the United Kingdom back during the beginning of the nineteenth century could be dubbed as the beginning of the process. In fact, the act strived to Streamline the health concerns of children working in the cotton factories during those days. This act led to the establishment of the factory inspectorate. This Government organ was responsible for overseeing the exploitation of children employed in such factories. Towards the mid part of the same century, another act was added to the government repertoire such that a restriction is levied on the working hours for women.
Subsequently, a royally appointed commission published a report on the working conditions. It drew a dangerous picture for the workers employed in the mining. The findings propelled an intense public debate leading to the promulgation of the Mines Act in the year 1842. This led to further restrictions on the employers such that workers were no longer exploited in the name of maximizing production. Simultaneously, social insurances were introduced and a law for ensuring workers’ compensation was introduced in the year 1884. Acts of similar nature started to punctuate the legal scenario in other countries as well leading to the firm establishment of labour rights as a bonafide entity.
The act in the present age
With the gradual infusion of modernity and the increasing dominance of science and technology, workers’ security and health are being given paramount importance, not just by the state powers but by the employers as well. It has been well understood that employees’ health and safety leads to a happier workforce, which in turn translates into optimum production. However, there still are grey areas which need to be addressed pretty soon for the system to become full-proof. Let us just say that the hygiene and safety of workers are here to stay.
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