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Reducing the dangers of dock work in the UK, 1899-1939

Posted: Thursday 11th May 2023

Reducing the dangers of dock work in the UK, 1899-1939

Event Date: 16 May 16:00 - 17:30 BST

How can the past inform our responses to contemporary maritime industry challenges?

Working at the docks, or even passing through them, is a risky business and always has been. Although the nature of cargo and how it is handled have changed dramatically in the last 100 years, largely due to the arrival of the shipping container, basic similarities remain. Loading and unloading cargo is inherently dangerous in an environment full of hazards: heavy machinery, large ships, confined spaces, and deep water. In recent years, dock workers have continued to suffer injuries and even die as a result of workplace accidents, both in highly regulated settings such as the UK, and around the world.

The period 1899-1939 saw great improvements in safety on docks in the UK, where there were 115 fatalities across all docks in 1899 and a relatively low 69 in 1939. How do all the stakeholders in a dangerous industry – political decision makers, commercial interests, employees and unions – work together to make such improvements? What conditions support improvement that we might be in danger of losing or overlooking today?

This panel discussion organised by History & Policy, Kings College London brings history and the maritime industry together and marks the publication of the second report in the Hindsight Perspectives series:

Reducing the dangers of dock work in the UK, 1899-1939: how past approaches could prevent future tragedies, by Dr Guy Collender.

Event will be held via Zoom. Sign up for your online ticket on Eventbrite.