Industrial diseases

  • Reference
      GB 133 ACS/6/7
  • Dates of Creation
  • Physical Description
      16 items

Scope and Content

This sub-series consists of files relating to industrial diseases in the cotton industry, in particular, epithelioma or mule spinner's cancer. Epithelioma, a skin cancer, had been identified as a particular risk to mule spinners in the 1920s. Epithelioma was known to be caused by contact with mineral oils, and mule spinners were particularly vulnerable due to their constant oiling of the spindles. In response, the Amalgamation campaigned for epithelioma to be registered as an industrial disease, allowing operatives to claim compensation from employers. In a test case in 1924 a mule spinner successfully sued his employers for loss of earnings due to contracting epithelioma. In 1930 mule spinners' cancer became a registered industrial disease. The Amalgamation was also involved in efforts to prevent the disease, including the development of non-carcinogenic oils, such as technical white oils. In 1954 it was made compulsory to use certain types of lubricating oil for the spindles. The Amalgamation was also involved in education programmes about the disease, assisted by such bodies as the Manchester Committee on Cancer.

There is also material relating to byssinosis, a respiratory disease affecting cotton workers. It was caused by cotton dust created in the early stages of cotton spinning, and was most prevalent among cardroom workers, although some mule spinners did contract the disease.