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TV tribute to health and safety pioneer

James Tye, founder of the British Safety Council, remembered on BBC’s One Show

JAMES Tye, the founder of the British Safety Council who passed away in 1996, was remembered in a recent BBC ‘One Show’ feature about his campaign efforts to improve safety in Britain.

The programme marked the 40th anniversary of the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) and featured archive footage of James being interviewed, in which he highlighted safety issues that concerned him ranging from life-jackets to seat belts. It also showcased interviews with British Safety Council trustee Lawrence Waterman and former chief press officer Tim Challis, who worked with James in the 1980s.

‘James was one of a few people in the 1950s and 60s who single-mindedly campaigned to make the world safer,’ said Alex Botha, current chief executive of the British Safety Council. ‘He was clearly seized by a mission to protect people from harm. As an advertising man, he used his skills to effectively capture the attention of the public and media to shame those who endangered others.

‘More than 1,000 workers were being killed at work [annually] in Great Britain when James began in the late 1950s. Given that since then to today we have seen an 85% reduction in fatalities, it is clear that his efforts have borne fruit.

‘His legacy is plain to see not only in the legal framework created by the 1974 Act, but also in something like the London 2012 Olympic build, where, for the first time, no worker was killed. As the programme said, he succeeded because he was committed and because ultimately he was right.

‘We at the British Safety Council are proud of our near 60-year history, but we know that with 2.3 million workers across the globe dying each year from work-related activities, his mission to make the world safer continues to be an urgent and ongoing one.’

The British Safety Council was founded by James Tye in 1957 and for nearly 60 years has educated people about risks at work, principally though training, audits and campaigns. He had an international outlook, creating the International Safety Awards to recognize best practice and help promote the safety message worldwide.

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