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Marginalising the body at work? Employers' occupational health strategies and occupational medicine in Scotland c. 1930-1974

Johnston, Ronnie and McIvor, Arthur (2008) Marginalising the body at work? Employers' occupational health strategies and occupational medicine in Scotland c. 1930-1974. Social History of Medicine, 21 (1). pp. 127-144. ISSN 0951-631X

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Abstract

This article engages with two main themes recently utilised by historians of health and welfare: the impact of periphery on health; and the strengths and weakness of public and private approaches to health care. The specific focus of the article is the nature of occupational health and safety in the industrial conurbation of west central Scotland between 1930 and 1974. Using a range of primary source material, the article compares and contrasts the relative paucity of health cover provided by the region's private employers with the more comprehensive health services enjoyed by workers in state-run industries and local authorities. The article also illustrates that, although the west of Scotland was the most extensive industrial region in Scotland and contained the biggest concentration of industrial hazards-including those derived from asbestos dust-and notwithstanding Glasgow's reputation for its pioneering public health initiatives, medical expertise regarding occupational health was poorly developed here. Indeed, as far as Scotland was concerned, a situation evolved from the 1960s in which occupational health expertise became located in Dundee and Edinburgh.