London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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Islington 1896

Forty-first annual report on the health and sanitary condition of the Parish of St. Mary, Islington

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The work of the two Inspectors (male and female) was of the
most satisfactory character, and fully—indeed, more than—justified the
action of the Vestry in appointing them especially for this purpose.
They have accomplished a very large amount of work, which has
resulted in improved conditions under which work-people labour.
Many of the premises inspected had never been visited by any of H.M.
Inspectors, and as a result no fewer than 172 such workshops were
reported to the Home Office by Miss Gray alone.
Work of the Female Inspector (Miss Gray).—This Inspector
made 1,251 inspections of workshops, containing 1,900 workrooms,
during the year. In 27 overcrowding occurred, in 10 the ventilation
was bad, and in 50 there was uncleanliness. In addition to these 341
other sanitary defects were rectified. 547 workroom cards, slating the
number of workers which the rooms would accommodate when working
ordinary time, as well as overtime, were distributed. In this connection
it was a Matter of much regret that one of H M. Assistant-Inspectors
stated to an employer of labour that "they were not worth the paper
they were printed on," thereby, in the opinion of the Medical Officer of
Health, greatly exceeding his duty and interfering in a most unwarrantable
manner with toe duties and responsibilities attaching to the
Vestry's officers. It is not expected that a similar incident will occur
again, as a speedy remonstrance was addressed to the offender by your
Medical Officer of Health.
Now these cards are of real service, for they enable workers to
at once perceive if unscrupulous employers are overcrowding their
work places. That they do so is quite apparent, for Miss Gray came
across 27 instances in which this offence was committed, and in her
report on her work for the second quarter of the year she pointed out
that in one workroom "where there was space for two persons only,
there were six at work; and in another with space for four there were
eight persons employed. "It is to prevent such occurrences that these
most valuable cards have been distributed.