Death at the Works

Lady Bell, in her book Life at the Works claimed there were few accidents at the blast furnaces of Middlesborough, which seems surprising when you look at how little the men ate, and they did constantly changing shifts. But she does record one incident, in which some men were loading the raw materials into the top of the blast furnace. One man lost his footing and fell in. A second one followed him, and a third was grabbed before he also was incinerated.

This fascinates and appals me not because of the first death, which is pretty horrific – they could not turn off the furnace, so had to empty it and try to find some of the remains. Why did the second man fall in? and the near death of the third. Seems to me they were too exhausted/weak to know what they were doing.

There is increasing evidence that people who work late nights get more tired than the rest of us. Lack of sunlight, with the resulting lack of Vitamin D must play a role in this. These men were too tired to know what they were doing.

Utterly horrific, the high price workers paid for the industrial revolution, and workers across the world continue to pay.

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