Company Servants' welfare

The "Safety Movement"

Working on the railways has always been incredibly dangerous if the proper precautions are not taken. Responsibility for staff safety was initially considered to be solely a personal matter and accidents resulted in many injuries, from the minor to the loss of limbs and often death. Accident rates were rising alarmingly at the beginning of the 20th century and so, in 1912, the Government appointed a Departmental Committee to investigate the situation. It would appear that the outbreak of war in 1914 brought an end to the committee and no report was produced, it did however serve to focus the minds of the various railway companies on the subject.

Sir Felix Pole had been made head of the GWR Staff and Labour Department in 1912 and, following his reading of an American booklet by George Bradshaw entitled Prevention of Railroad Accidents, he decided that the GWR should implement a staff safety campaign. Being editor of the Great Western Railway Magazine at the time, Pole commissioned an E.S. Hadley to write a series of illustrated articles looking at various aspects of safe, and unsafe, working practices. The first article was published in August 1913, thus initiating the very successful GWR Safety Movement. Similar articles continued to appear now and then for many years in the magazine, but the first series were gathered together into a 48 page booklet in 1914, a copy of which was 'Presented by the Great Western Railway Company to each of their 80,000 Employees'.

The 'Safety Movement' 1914 edition
First edition, published in 1914
Printed by Andrew Reid & Co., Ltd. ,Newcastle-upon-Tyne
The 'Safety Movement' 1914 edition

The 'Safety Movement' 1914 edition
Pages 8 and 9

The 'Safety Movement' 1914 edition
Pages 12 and 13

This first booklet was concerned with safety across the whole spectrum of railway operations and maintenance and it was followed by others dealing with specific areas, such as the one aimed at Permanent Way Men. Other railway companies also produced their own safety booklets, sometimes in collaboration with others. One such is the red Prevention of Accidents to Staff engaged on Railway Goods and Cartage Work which is noted as being jointly published by the Great Western, London & North Eastern, London, Midland and Scottish and Southern Railway Companies. This booklet also carries several advertisements, probably to help defray the cost of production. These books were all generally 4¾"x7¼" in size, but those later published by the British Transport Commission had grown to about 5½"x8".
Prevention of accidents 1936 edition
Dated February, 1936
Printed by Cheltenham Press Ltd.
Look Out 1936 edition
Dated July,1936

Personal Safety BR edition
Published by the British Transport Commission