Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Which Railway Employees Suffered the most Accidents in 1888?

Accidents to railway workers were very common in the Victorian period, and most safety legislation was passed to protect the passenger, rather than the employee. A Board of Trade report on accidents in 1888 stated that out of the 346,426 individuals engaged in railway companies' Traffic, Locomotive, Engineering and Stores Departments,  346 were killed and 2,193 were injured. However, different grades of employee were affected to different extents, and the table shows the proportion of individuals in each grade who were victims of an accident (sorted by the proportionate fatality rate):

Clearly, individuals working  with the physical movement of rolling stock, the Brakesmen, Goods Guards and Shunters, suffered the greatest proportion of accidents.  Furthermore, both in terms of fatalities and injuries, station-based staff, such as Ticket Collectors, Station-Masters and Porters, were in the bottom half of the table. Thus, this evidence would suggest strongly (and let us face it, this probably didn't need pointing out) that where you worked on the Victorian railway affected your chance of being in an accident. The closer you were to a 'moving part', putting you at greater risk.

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