Iron and steel health and safety improvements and accident reduction, was due to social pressure, as well as technology, automation and law.
The statistics and the trend towards improving industrial iron and steel health and safety all through the1920s-30s in Germany, was studied by industrial historian Dr Nina Kleinöder.
She won the 2015 Drupa Prize for her dissertation on “Occupational Health and Safety in the West German Iron and Steel Industry in the 20th Century: Structures, Actors and Intertwining Processes”.
The background is considerably more complex than just technology and ever stricter safety legislation. Several factors worked together to improve safety in a network of internal and external influences.
There was also a blend of economic, political and human factors that range between volition and regulation, and between economic reality and social expectations.
Dr Kleinöder tracked the incident and accident figures at four companies in the iron and steel industry in the Rhine-Ruhr region; Hoesch, Krupp, Mannesmann and Thyssen.
The development of occupational health and safety as it exists today is the result of a cooperative intertwining process between many actors and influences; from unions, associations, science, politics and society.
These agendas had one decisive criterion. Companies in the iron and steel industry played a successful and influential role at the time, and had to prove that occupational health and safety and the continued health of employees were also matters close to their heart.
Dr Kleinöder had studied Economic History at Heinrich Heine University.
The Drupa Prize by Messe Düsseldorf goes to the best doctoral thesis in the Arts Faculty at Heinrich Heine University, with prize money of 6000 Euro.
• Sources; Drupa. Graphic Repro On-line.
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