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Il/legitimate risks? Occupational health and safety and the public in Britain, c. 1960-2015

Almond, P. ORCID: and Esbester, M. (2016) Il/legitimate risks? Occupational health and safety and the public in Britain, c. 1960-2015. In: Crook, T. and Esbester, M. (eds.) Governing risks in modern Britain: danger, safety and accidents, c. 1800-2000. Palgrave MacMillan, Basingstoke, pp. 277-296. ISBN 9781137467447

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1057/978-1-137-46745-4_12


The last 20 years have seen the emergence of a popular climate of antipathy towards occupational health and safety regulation within the UK, particularly within the mainstream British media. The governance of health and safety has thus in recent years become an increasingly visible and contested public and political issue. The extent of this contestation, and its impact on the State’s governance of health and safety in the workplace and beyond, is explained and historicized within this chapter. Why has public rhetoric about health and safety apparently become so important in framing the ways in which the State could legitimately act in recent years? The chapter demonstrates how since 1960 the State remained a significant player – one among many, admittedly – and that while its roles in managing health and safety had long been bounded by a number of factors, a variable that emerged with particular saliency over the last 20 years has been a mediated notion of ‘public opinion’. This focus serves to remind us of the ways in which State action has at certain moments been pushed in particular directions by factors beyond formal mechanisms of rule.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Law
ID Code:65084
Publisher:Palgrave MacMillan


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