In addition to presenting research findings at conferences and symposia, and producing the project report, we’ve also been working on publications. One of these came out earlier this month – a chapter in an edited book looking at risk in modern Britain.
In the chapter, we show how public opinion came to exercise a key role in health and safety regulation in post-1960 Britain, extending governance beyond the State. We argue that the period after 1985 was crucial, when the changing political and economic structure of the UK, including the gradual decline of trades unions and rise of neo-liberalism with its anti-regulatory agenda, increasingly made health and safety and State intervention matters of significant political dispute. Amid these public disputes, the State took greater steps to respond to attitudes about health and safety at work and beyond, and incorporate the public voice in the regulatory process. This crossover between the workplace and wider society is particularly significant, and from it we can see the roots of contemporary ideas – and, indeed, distrust in some quarters – about health and safety.
The chapter appears in the book Governing Risks in Modern Britain: Danger, Safety and Accidents, c.1800-2000, which Mike co-edited: http://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9781137467447