Just before Christmas 1920, a new law came into effect, known as the Employment of Women, Young Persons and Children Act, 1920. The Act covered the employment of women, and focused on identifying terms for children, aged under 14, and young persons, deemed older than children but under 18. The Act focused on bringing into law certain rules that meant children couldn’t work in industrial workplaces if they were not yet of school age. They also were restricted from working at sea – something that may seem odd today, but was not unusual around 100 years ago. The new act then came into law on New Year’s Day, 1921.
The Employment of Women, Young Persons and Children Act also outlawed the idea of women and young people working in this setting at night. There were conditions included in the new law that set out exceptions to the rule, but these were only a few.
‘Industrial settings’ was quite a broad-ranging description, but under the terms of the Act, they were described as including mines, railways, construction sites and similar locations, and factories. Today, we would find it unusual for women not to be allowed to work in such settings, even though some professions have more men working in them than women. However, at the time, the Act was a way to protect children, young people and women from being exploited at work, and from being put in harm’s way.
Moving on from the Employment of Women, Young Persons and Children Act
Of course, life changes from day to day, let alone from 100 years to the next 100 years. While some industrial workplaces still exist today – we still have factories, for example, dotted up and down the country – the way jobs are done is very different from how they used to be. People used to do many things by hand, even though machinery was in use back then. Some people in factories may still do things by hand today, but the jobs they do may be very different, and will be risk-assessed for health and safety, in line with the Act from 1974.
A forerunner to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974?
You might view it in this way, yes. Workplaces have changed immeasurably over the past century. Some jobs were common then that are not common now. The Employment of Women, Young Persons and Children Act was just one of many pieces of legislation that have been created over the decades. They all have one explicit thing in mind, though – the protection of certain workers, and the desire to make sure we are all as safe as we can be at work.
The dangers of modern jobs
In many ways, we have moved on and become more advanced since 1920, when the Act was created. Women are now able to do many jobs, working nights and moving up the career ladder in ways that would have been unthinkable in the past.
Similarly, jobs have become safer. Indeed, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 led to some impressive changes in the statistics collected in this area. For example, fatal injuries have fallen by 85% between 1974 and 2016 – a massive change that is very impressive indeed, and testament to the power of the Act and the dedication of employers to following it.
Non-fatal injuries that were reported to employers affected 336,722 workers in 1974. Fast-forward to 2016 and the figure has dropped to 77,310 – a figure we can probably still do a lot to reduce further.
Staying safe at work is just as important as ever
While the Employment of Women, Young Persons and Children Act made certain restrictions in how and where these groups in society could and could not work, it was done with health and safety in mind. Of course, this may not have been a phrase people in 1920 were familiar with.
Today, though, things are very different. Every workplace has a duty to ensure proper health and safety rules and regulations are followed. In doing so, the odds of anyone being injured while doing their work will be reduced by as great a degree as possible.
Accidents in the workplace can occur in many ways. Falls from height might be possible if not enough is done to prevent them from happening. Personal protective equipment (PPE) can prevent injuries to eyesight, hearing, skin, and other parts of the body, too. Risk assessments identify potential hazards ahead of time, before they have a chance to inflict injury on someone. Appropriate steps can then be taken to ensure no injuries occur, as the hazards can be reduced, and in some cases, got rid of entirely.
We all have a role to play in keeping the number of injuries that occur at work to a minimum. But with that said, if you are unlucky enough to be injured at work, you should find out whether negligence was the reason your accident happened.
Have you been injured at work?
If so, you may have an opportunity to make a claim for compensation. You will not know for certain unless and until you seek legal advice, but this is easy to do when you contact our team to speak to an advisor. There’s no obligation to carry on with a claim even if your injuries could result in compensation being paid, but it makes sense to find out more.
We are a long way away from the Employment of Women, Young Persons and Children Act now, but health and safety and the protection of employees is as important as ever. Accident Advice Helpline has successfully concluded many personal injury cases for our clients over more than 16 years, and we could do the same for you, too. Call us now to find out if this is the case, on 0800 689 5659.