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A Survey of Small Factories
  1. Margot Jefferys,
  2. C. H. Wood
  1. Department of Public Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine


    This survey was undertaken by a group of doctors, nurses, and lecturers in the Department of Public Health of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as part of the teaching programme for the Diploma in Public Health. Fifty small factories in an area of a metropolitan borough were invited to answer questions concerning their industrial processes, their labour force, their premises, their first-aid provision, and the visits they received from officials of local and central government. Forty-eight of these factories responded and observations were made by teams of three recording independently of each other in 45. A variety of industries was represented in these 48 firms, half of which employed less than 10 workers.

    The working environment, in respect of sanitary arrangements, cleanliness and tidiness, lighting on stairs and passage ways, was considered to be unsatisfactory in many firms. Some instances of inadequate safeguards of machines were seen. The accident rate was found to be rather less than the computed national rate for manufacturing industry in 1956.

    First-aid equipment and workers were also considered to be deficient in a number of instances. In case of accident and for the treatment of minor ailments most firms made use of a local casualty and out-patient department of a general hospital. This service was considered quite adequate.

    Many firms had not been visited by the Factory Inspector or his deputy during the previous year. Rather more had received visits from the local authority health inspectors. Many firms expressed confusion about the duties and functions of their various official visitors.

    The conclusions drawn from this limited enquiry were that the working conditions in small factories are often unsatisfactory; that in areas such as the one surveyed it is unrealistic to think in terms of development of an industrial health service similar to those operating in Slough and Harlow; and that the greatest impact on environmental conditions might be made by an improved and simplified system of inspection especially adapted to the needs of the small factory.

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    • * This paper is based on the report of a study group of which the following were members:

      Dr. R. H. Strudwick (Colonial Medical Service, Hong Kong), Dr. D. Sturman (general practitioner, New Zealand), and Dr. R. E. Woolley (R.A.F. Medical Service) (joint chairmen), Dr. A. Bhoomkar (senior house officer, Osmania General Hospital, India), Dr. E. C. Cummings (Government Medical Service, Sierra Leone), Dr. A. L. Ferguson (house physician, Preston, North Shields), Miss N. A. Jones (public health nurse tutor, Rural Health Training School, Malaya), Dr. R. O. M. Jones (R.A.F. Medical Service), Dr. A. B. Marples (research assistant, Florida State Board of Health, U.S.A.), Miss M. A. O'Keiffe (senior health visitor, Health Department, Trinidad), Miss R. Seymour (public health nurse, British Red Cross, Kenya), Dr. H. Shore (Colonial Medical Service, Uganda), Mr. R. Soedarjono (Ministry of Health, Indonesia), Miss J. K. Wenborn (superintendent nursing officer, Breconshire County Council), Mrs. M. Jefferys and Dr. C. H. Wood (staff members), and Miss J. Campbell (Secretary).