Last edited 07 Jul 2015

Factory Acts


[edit] Introduction

The Factory Acts were passed by the government to regulate the working conditions provided by industrial employers. Early acts were limited in scope and largely unenforced.

[edit] Factory Act 1833 (Althorp’s Act)

Growing pressure and further parliamentary enquiries revealed the extent of abuse and mistreatment of children in factories. This led to the passing of the 1833 Act. Prior Acts had been limited to just the cotton industry, but the latest Act also applied to woollen producing communities. The Act banned the use of children in factories under the age of nine. For those aged between 9 and 13, a 48 hour working week limit was set with no more than 8 hours per day and for children between 13 and 18 this limit was set at 12 hours per day.

In addition, this was the first Act that established an enforcement system through the use of inspectors. The inspectors had the powers to impose penalties for infringements. Due to the limited number of inspectors and the vast number of factories, the Act was widely evaded but it was the start of a more controlled system.

[edit] Factory Act 1844 (Graham’s factory act)

The Factories Act 1844 was predominantly a health and safety act, and the first of its kind in Britain. It included the following:

  • Secure fencing around dangerous machinery.
  • No child or young person was to clean mill machinery while it was in use.
  • A limit of 6.5 hours work for a child, with 3 hours schooling.
  • A maximum of 12 hour working day for 13-18 year olds and women.

[edit] Factories Act 1847 (Ten Hours Act)

The 1847 Act introduced the restriction of working hours of women and 13-18 year olds in textile mills to 10 hours per day.

[edit] Factories Act Extension Act 1867

The introduction of the 1867 extension, enforced the factory legislation to all other factories which employed at least 50 people. It also introduced specific regulations for certain industries such as blast furnaces, iron and steel mills, glass, paper making, tobacco, printing and bookbinding.

[edit] Later Acts

Further Factory Acts were passed in 1878, 1891 and 1895 which placed additional restrictions on the employment of children and women and also extended health and safety regulations. The minimum age was raised to 11 by the 1891 Act.

[edit] Factories Act 1961

The 1961 act consolidated the 1937 and 1959 Acts and the act is still largely in force. However, the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 is now the predominant piece of legislation that governs workplace health and safety.

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