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 employers understand the importance of fresh air that sufficient attention is paid to
ventilation. The employees, as a rule, do not see the necessity for it, and, if left to themselves,
keep the windows and ventilators closed. Of course, it is only natural that they,
often inadequately clad, should object to Bitting ten and a half hours a day in a draught.
Much, however, can he done by airing the rooms thoroughly at mealtimes. The practice
of heating workrooms by means of gas burners only is much to be deprecated, as
generally in those cases gas is only allowed for two hours or so in the morning;
consequently the employees are afraid to open the windows, and by the end of the day
the state of the atmosphere may be imagined.
Overcrowding.—In twenty-seven workrooms overcrowding has been abated; in most
cases additional accommodation has been provided for the extra hands. I have distributed
647 workroom cards, stating the number to be employed in each room.
Sanitary Defects.—I have reported, during the year, 541 nuisances liable to be dealt
with under the Public Health Act. I have issued 107 intimation notices and supervised
the abatement of 133 nuisances.
Laundries.—On my first inspection of the laundries, I found their condition far from
satisfactory. Owing partly to the nature of the business, most of them were in a more or
less dirty and dilapidated state. In the ironing-rooms, the walls, ceilings and floors were
defective, so much so that in three cases, at least, I found that workers had fallen through
the floors! Many of the wash-houses were paved with wood and were, in consequence, in
a most insanitary condition. The sanitary arrangements were, as a rule, far from perfect
These defects have been remedied and there is now a marked improvement in all sanitary
matters. Several new, well-ventilated wash-houses and ironing-rooms have been built
during the year, and the plan of having the iron-heating stove in a separate room from the
workers (though not required by the provisions of the Factory Act in "workshop"
laundries) has been adopted in many places.
I am, Sir,
Your obedient Servant,
Inspector of Workrooms.