This chapter sheds more light on the central question of this book: why it took so many decades for the full implications of the asbestos health problem to be realized and acted upon. Data disseminated in the annual reports of the Chief Inspector of Factories showed that the Factory Inspectorate did provide important insights into the dangers of asbestos for those who cared to look. However, the culture of the Factory Inspectorate militated against dealing effectively with severe industrial hazards. Matters of health and safety involved a dialogue between the Inspectors and the bosses — a dialogue from which the workers were invariably excluded. Unions were largely ineffective in modifying the provisions of the 1931 legislation and gave health and safety a low priority. Evidence from Turner & Newall also highlights the difficulty trade unions faced in opposing a powerful commercial organization.
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