A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46

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Occupational Group 1: Women Engineering Machinists.

Protective1 Outer 2 Underwear 3 Footwear 4
No. % No. % No. % No. %
1. Abnormal Dirt 144 27.7 115 22.1 88 16.9 64 12.3
2. Abnormal Perspiration 59 11.3 65 12.5 62 11.9 43 8.3
3. Abnormal Wear & Tear 222 42.7 156 30.0 127 24.4 154 29.6
4. Burning 50 9.6 44 8.5 22 4.2 44 8.5
5. Corrosion 27 5.2 22 4.2 9 1.7 22 4.2
6. Cuts & Abrasions from Metal Swarf 75 14.4 48 9.2 23 4.4 86 16.5
7. Cuts & Abrasions from other causes 69 13.3 58 11.2 24 4.6 61 11.7
8. Dust & Metal Filings 91 17.5 72 13.8 35 6.7 100 19.2
9. Humidity 5 1.0 4 .8 - - 2 .4
10. Odour 54 10.4 52 10.0 42 8.1 27 5.2
11. Oil, Grease & Soluble Oils 338 65.0 276 53.1 212 40.8 306 58.8
12. Weather - - - - - - - -
13. Wetness 50 9.6 33 6.3 13 2.5 48 9.2
14. Other 6 1.2 6 1.2 3 .6 7 1.3

Causes of Damage to Clothing

Abnormal Dirt . Attributed to handling raw materials and components of cast iron etc., and to dust emitted from nearby machines and engines.

Abnormal Perspiration . Excessive sweating, especially in summer, rots clothes. Clothes, especially, under-clothes, are damaged still further by the continual washing necessary.

Abnormal Wear and Tear . Caused by continual binding and straining at machines, operating handles and other controls, rubbing and catching on machines, etc. Overalls are worn out in front through carrying castings, etc. Concrete and stone floors are hard on shoes, particularly for those workers tending more than one machine

Burning . Sparks from grinders and oxy-acetylene burners, hot swarf and red hot brass cuttings.

Corrosion . Clothes and footwear rotted by acids in which metals are pickled, by spirits of salts used in soldering, by soda water, and by gas fumes from de-greasing tanks. Clothes are weakened so that they tear easily.

Cuts and Abrasions from Metals Swarf . Metal swarf which falls to the ground is a particular menace to stockings and footwear. Chips of steel penetrate shoes and clothes and cannot be removed.

Other Cuts and Abrasions . Garments are ripped by projections from machines, sharp edged boxes, sheet metal, and tools.

Dust and metal fillings , from shaping, planing and sawing machines, etc., penetrates to underclothes and, combining with perspiration makes underclothes rusty.

Oil, Grease, slurry and paraffin from machine and machined parts rot leather and cloth very quickly, penetrating to underclothes and leaving stains. Underclothes are ruined for social purpose by permanent smell caused by oil. Floors impregnated with oil cause shoes to deteriorate.

Wetness . Water dripped or splashing from machines during various processes harmful to clothes.

In some cases there was found to be no proper accommodation for outer clothes, these being kept behind machines, with great risk of soiling.

1. Abnormal Dirt. Due to working with French chalk, black sand, bone dust and general conditions of machinery. In shipbuilding, from ships bilges, handling lead and rosin; from climbing through manholes.

2. Abnomal_Perspiration. When exposed to the heat of hot metal bars and steel plates; from the heat involved in welding and rivetting; when working near roaring furnaces, forges and brazier fires; heat in all these cases is accentuated in hot summer weather.

3. Abnormal Wear & Tear . Due to friction of stooping and rubbing on benches; continual movement involved in casting iron: heavy lifting during erection of steel. Working pedals is particularly hard on shoe leather. Shipbuilders clothes are badly worn by working in many awkward positions, e.g. kneeling and lying on ships’ hulls. Women’s stockings are laddered by constant bending. In all cases continual hard washing wears clothes out quickly.

Burning . Caused by sparks from blow lamps and arc lamps; from furnaces, saws and grinding machines: by sparks flying while welding and rivetting, and the heat involved in this operation: by splashes of molten metal: shoe leather is burnt by standing on hot metal plates.

Corrosion. Due to clothing coming in contact with corrosive acids used in plating, pickling and in accumulators.

Cuts & Abrasions from Metal Swarf. Caused by grit and swarf from lathes and punching machines: by wood dust thrown off at high speed; by scales from rivets: shoes are cut by iron and steel swarf and other bits of metal which fall on the ground.

Cuts & Abrasions from other sources . Clothing is torn on numerous projections, nails, pieces of iron and wire: ripped when handling tin plates and metal bars, on the sharp edges of boxes, when lying on the floor or ground and when climbing through holes.

Dust and Metal Filings . From metal, from scaling and the emery of grinding machines.

Oil, Grease & Soluble Oils , From machinery, gears and shackles. Shipbuilders have to face the hazards of grease and tar involved in treating timber, the tallow used on shipways, the paint from new paint-work, and often the dirty bilges in tanks and engine rooms.

Odour from oil, from fuel and salt mixed, which clings to the clothing and makes it unwearable on social occasions.

Humidity . Remarks were made that the core-making room is “like an- oven”: under these and similar conditions clothing rapidly deteriorates.

Weather . The elements are particularly hard on the clothing of those who have to work out of doors in all weathers.

Wetness . From water dripping from machines, e,g, in the case of capstan operators who have to lie on the floor.

Others . Smoke from smithy: salt water: red lead rust from paint and iron-work. In heavy engineering friction with iron-mould is very hard wearing on shoes and socks. Red and white lead from noggins, beams and seam batons.

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