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Robert Baker: The First Doctor in the Factory Department. Part I. 1803-1858
  1. W. R. Lee
  1. Nuffield Department of Occupational Health, University of Manchester


    `We have to announce the death of Mr. Robert Baker, C.B., formerly one of the chief inspectors of factories, in his 77th year. Mr. Baker began life as a member of the medical profession, and devoted great attention to the condition of factory operatives. In 1834 he was appointed subinspector of factories under the Factory Act and in 1858 was made one of the chief inspectors. On his retirement he was created C.B. of the Civil Division.' (The Times, February 10, 1880)

    The story of Robert Baker's work in the Factory Department starts at a time when `the health of the worker' referred to the possibility of outbreaks of infectious disease and to the prolonged employment of children. As the story progresses, early attempts to control the hazards of industrial disease are seen, and the questions of the duties of the doctor in industry and of the organization of the medical supervision of small workplaces receive attention. From the successes and failures of a doctor, well placed to view these ever-present problems, we may be guided in our current attempts to deal with them.

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