This book makes an original sociological contribution to industrial injury from the theoretical standpoint of political economy. Going beyond commonsense and psychological explanations of 'accidents', it concentrates on injury rates rather than individual occurrences. Extensive empirical research is presented which centres on manufacturing but also extends to construction and coalmining, drawing upon a variety of research methods.
Part 1 addresses 'accident theory'. Chapter 2 re-visits the studies of accidents and absenteeism conducted after World War II by the influential Tavistock Institute of Human Relations. Chapter 3, co-authored with Peter Armstrong, addresses the 1972 Robens Report, which was influential far beyond the shores of Britain, especially in Australia. Chapter 4 and 5 shift to the modern day and provide a major critical account of the social sciences literature on accidents/injuries from economics, psychology, sociology and political economy.
Part 2 presents three extensive empirical investigations. Chapter 6 examines industrial safety in British manufacturing with particular emphasis on the changing nature of the political economy, especially the advent of Thatcherism and the efficacy of the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act. Chapter 7 switches method from an historical approach to a cross-sectional one, focusing on the significance of trade unionism, different forms of health and safety representation and size of work unit. Chapter 8, co-authored with Erol Kahveci, moves from Britain to Turkey, and provides a detailed account of injuries to miners in the Zonguldak coalfield over half a century. A Postscript reviews the most recent evidence on industrial safety in Britain and considers contemporary policy prescriptions.