Table showing accidents in factories, 1898

Factories in the Victorian era were extremely dangerous places to work. Cotton weaving and spinning sheds were full of dust and fibres, which irritated and damaged the lungs of the operatives. The factories were tightly packed with moving machinery, without guards. There were moving belts everywhere which could catch a woman's hair and scalp her. A worker who leant over to adjust a spindle risked losing a finger or a hand, or worse. Children were employed to clear faults, and accumulated dust, from underneath the machines. They often lost concentration, or fell asleep, with terrible results. The appalling clatter of a weaving or spinning shed led to occupational deafness, that was taken for granted. This government report lists the thousands of accidents that occurred in a single year in textile factories around the country.