A history of accident prevention posters revealed

Public safety warnings are perhaps most memorably heeded through the gruesome and grainy Central Office of Information films of the 1970s, or maybe company health and safety videos.

Don't Lose Sight of Them - Protect Your Eyes at Work. Hand rendered artwork -  industrial safety by F Blake 1954. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents
Don’t Lose Sight of Them – Protect Your Eyes at Work. Hand rendered artwork – industrial safety by F Blake 1954. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has just exhumed a collection of posters from its archive and selected 40 from the 1930s to the 1970s. We’re sure some of these will have brought on similar feelings of fear and obedience.

Beware of the Swarf. Handrendered artwork - industrial safety by Leonard Cusden 1951. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents
Beware of the Swarf. Handrendered artwork – industrial safety by Leonard Cusden 1951. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

Over 700 were discovered in one place when the RoSPA says it was ‘clearing out its old warehouse.’ Lets hope there was clear signage, ladders were used correctly and everyone wore gloves.

Accidents Dont Just Happen, They are Caused. Hand-rendered artwork - General safety by Gus 1963. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents
Accidents Dont Just Happen, They are Caused. Hand-rendered artwork – General safety by Gus 1963. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

Artists who worked on the posters include Tom Eckersley and Leonard Cusden and the cartoonist George Smith, better known as Gus. 

Journey's End poster published by RoSPA and printed by Loxley Brothers Sheffield - road safety by Roland Davies 1960s. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents
Journey’s End poster published by RoSPA and printed by Loxley Brothers Sheffield – road safety by Roland Davies 1960s. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

The huge haul of content means the show will also plot a social history of the things we were bothered about, or the things which posed a threat, and visually messages have been executed in a way which broadly reflects graphic trends of the time.

Warm the Child But Guard the Fire poster published by RoSPA and printed by Loxley Brothers Sheffield - home safety - artist initials FT 1950s. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents
Warm the Child But Guard the Fire poster published by RoSPA and printed by Loxley Brothers Sheffield – home safety – artist initials FT 1950s. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

The RoSPA Collection will run from 15-17 May at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel, Birmingham, B40   

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  • Peter McGreevy November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    As a Safety Rep I found the same message portrayed but in a different format to modern day posters. I believe they would encourage the viewer to look deeper into the meaning and reason the poster is displayed. Well Done. Peter McGreevy

  • Julie November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    As someone in the creative industry who has designed for the Health and Safety profession, I find these posters a real treat! Not only does it show the talented minds of the eras in which they were created, it also shows the difference in design and messaging today on Health and Safety marketing materials. Can’t wait to see more of these. Great find RoSPA. Julie Edge.

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