Health and Safety Through the Years

Campaigning history made available in digital archive from British Safety Council

When James Tye created the British Safety Council in 1957, thousands of people were being killed at work every year in the UK, while many more suffered serious injuries and disease.

He campaigned tirelessly for comprehensive protection of all workers, and the last 60 years of health and safety campaign history has now been unveiled as part of the British Safety Council’s digital archive.

This archive contains work featuring momentous events from 60 years of British economic, social and political history, and holds unique documents and correspondence as well as photographs, newspapers, magazines and posters which were thought to be lost.

In 2015, as the British Safety Council started to prepare a treasure trove of historic materials including campaign posters, photographs, and correspondence, all of which was bursting from old boxes in a warehouse in the Midlands.

These have now been digitized and made publicly available for the first time.

Among the treasures in the archive are:

  • The first UK report into the need for seat-belt laws, from 1959;
  • A comprehensive collection of publications from 1959 to 2010, documenting the British history of this period, including tragedies, e.g. the Kings Cross fire and Hillsborough disaster, changes in politics, industry, fashion and gender;
  • Hundreds of unique, hand-drawn posters from the 1970s, 80s and 90s;
  • Photographs of celebrities who were involved in the British Safety Council’s campaigns, including Dame Barbara Windsor DBE, Des Lynam OBE and Dame Esther Rantzen DBE;
  • An insight into the life and struggles of James Tye, a powerful and sometimes controversial campaigning voice trying to change the attitude of British industry and the public to safety and health at work; and
  • The British Safety Council’s magazines from the 60s.