Preliminary Programme

Wed 12 April
    08.30 - 10.30
    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00
    16.30 - 18.30

Thu 13 April
    08.30 - 10.30
    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00
    16.30 - 18.30

Fri 14 April
    08.30 - 10.30
    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00
    16.30 - 18.30

Sat 15 April
    08.30 - 10.30
    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00

All days
Go back

Wednesday 12 April 2023 16.30 - 18.30
R-4 HEA03b From the Workplace to the Death Bed: Conceptualising and Assessing Morbidity and Mortality in 19th and 20th Century Europe II
E45
Network: Health and Environment Chairs: -
Organizers: - Discussants: -
Moderators: -
Helene Castenbrandt : Unable to Work: the Long-term Sick and the Role of the Diagnosis for Invalidity Pension in Sweden, 1914-1962
From 1914, people considered permanently unable to work could receive a small invalidity pension from the Swedish pension authority. The invalidity pension was universal in contrast to the member-based sickness funds, which created a tension between these forms of insurance. Anyone over the age of 15 was eligible to apply, ... (Show more)
From 1914, people considered permanently unable to work could receive a small invalidity pension from the Swedish pension authority. The invalidity pension was universal in contrast to the member-based sickness funds, which created a tension between these forms of insurance. Anyone over the age of 15 was eligible to apply, but benefits were based on income as well as an invalidity assessment. Applications were first evaluated at the local pension board, while the final decision was made at the central pension authority in Stockholm. The difficulties in defining invalidity in relation to the pension law can be illustrated by an example from 1941. In that year a 37-year-old woman suffering from tuberculosis sent in an application for invalidity pension. She had been treated for her condition at a hospital in Stockholm, but would according to her physician still be unable to work for the coming two years. The application was first approved by the local pension board, but then later rejected by the central authority with the motivation that her condition was not considered permanent. The example highlights the significance given both to the physician’s statement and the diagnosis when assessing incapacity to work in relation to the invalidity pension. In this paper the role placed on the cause behind the invalidity, i.e. the diagnosis, will be examined in relation to the need for financial help for the long-term sick. The period under investigation is 1914 to 1962, which means that changes over time will be considered, as well as age and gender. The study uses data on applications for invalidity pension, appeals against decisions, along with debates in newspapers/magazines. (Show less)

Joe Chick : Under the Weather: The Effects of Outdoor Work on Health for Postal Workers and Metropolitan Policemen, 1860-1908
While very different occupations, Victorian and Edwardian postal work and policing shared some of the same physical and mental demands. London postal workers and Metropolitan policemen worked outdoors in all weather, breathing the capital’s air, and surrounded by its busy traffic. The duties were physically demanding and had long hours, ... (Show more)
While very different occupations, Victorian and Edwardian postal work and policing shared some of the same physical and mental demands. London postal workers and Metropolitan policemen worked outdoors in all weather, breathing the capital’s air, and surrounded by its busy traffic. The duties were physically demanding and had long hours, often involving night work. During the nineteenth century, a pension scheme was introduced for both sectors, combined with medical examinations to judge eligibility for retirement with a pension. This paper uses these pensions records, alongside death certificates and the annual reports of the Metropolitan Police Commissioners and the Post Office’s Chief Medical Officer, to compare health and sickness trends between the two occupations.
Across the nineteenth century, increasing attention was paid to the impact of work on health. Professions that posed a significant risk of physical injury, such as mining and factory work, received particular attention. There were also comments by contemporaries on the health repercussions of more day-to-day activities, even if working conditions could be slow to respond to these concerns. Through an examination of pension records, it is possible to uncover the health conditions that led to early retirement among postal workers and policemen. Whereas much scholarship has explored causes of death, these records shed light on the less studied topic of lifetime health. (Show less)

Tobias Karlsson : The Gender Gap in Sick Leave: Evidence from Twentieth Century Sweden
This paper discusses sick leave as and indicator of health and absenteeism from work, with particular regard to long-run gender differences. The point of departure is a compilation of the relative sickness rate (women/men) from 1901 to 2015 for Sweden. At the beginning of the twentieth century, women had on ... (Show more)
This paper discusses sick leave as and indicator of health and absenteeism from work, with particular regard to long-run gender differences. The point of departure is a compilation of the relative sickness rate (women/men) from 1901 to 2015 for Sweden. At the beginning of the twentieth century, women had on average the same number of sick days as men. In more recent years, the women have about twice the number of sick days as men, higher than ever before during the period of investigation. The question is whether the growing gender gap in sick leave represent fundamental changes in health or is due to compositional effects. Over the course of the twentieth century, there were substantial shifts in health insurance coverage, labour force participation and segregation according to occupation and workplace. In order to cancel out some of the compositional effects, the paper present case-study evidence of the sick leave from a specific industry, the tobacco industry 1898-1958. The case study allows a closer look at the relationship between gender, marital status and sick leave, as well as examples of how employers could react to and respond to rising sickness rates in the workforce. (Show less)

Holly Marley : ‘Weeding Out’ the ‘Weakly Subject’: Medical Screening in the Post Office, 1855-1914
In March 1900, Chief Medical Officer to the Post Office Dr Arthur Wilson emphasised the ‘paramount importance’ of the probationary medical examination of all prospective Postal candidates. The Post Office Medical Service (POMS) was established in 1855, and Postal Medical Officers were responsible for assessing the physical and mental condition ... (Show more)
In March 1900, Chief Medical Officer to the Post Office Dr Arthur Wilson emphasised the ‘paramount importance’ of the probationary medical examination of all prospective Postal candidates. The Post Office Medical Service (POMS) was established in 1855, and Postal Medical Officers were responsible for assessing the physical and mental condition of each employee, ensuring that ‘weaklings’ were eliminated from the service during the examination stage. Medical Officers were provided with instructions which guided them through the medical examination, and underscored the physical and mental ‘defects’ which would prevent candidates from being accepted into the service.
Using materials derived from the Postal Museum and The National Archive, and using other forms of physical examinations for comparison, this paper will explore the POMS’s attempts to standardise the physical examination using a predetermined ‘table of averages’, which measured the candidate’s height, weight and chest circumference. It will show that the POMS was attempting to calculate the bodily value of its employees to ensure that they would be able to physically and mentally withstand their onerous duties, thus preventing premature retirement and large pension pay-outs. This paper will subsequently highlight the conflicting medical attitudes towards the imposition of fixed physical qualifications, revealing the objections towards fixating on ‘bodily quantity’ rather than ‘bodily quality’. (Show less)

Natasha Preger : Occupational Health and the Life-Cycle in the British Post Office, 1870 – 1914
During the nineteenth century, there was a growth in bureaucratic organisations like the Post Office, in which career progression was possible from recruitment through to retirement. As a result, workers often spent their entire working lives in one organisation. In the Post Office, monitoring the health risks associated with this ... (Show more)
During the nineteenth century, there was a growth in bureaucratic organisations like the Post Office, in which career progression was possible from recruitment through to retirement. As a result, workers often spent their entire working lives in one organisation. In the Post Office, monitoring the health risks associated with this extended life-cycle of work was of utmost concern. The manual for those Medical Officers employed by the Post Office even contained the following recommendation: ‘bear in mind that the question of fitness involves the future as well as the present’.
Ensuring that the post was delivered on time and to the correct place was entirely dependent on the physical health and efficiency of the workforce as well as its integrity. For those reasons, maintaining physical efficiency and moral rectitude were of paramount concern to the Post Office authorities for the entire duration of the working life. To achieve the efficiency required to deliver the mail was more than just a matter of weeding out weak candidates from the start. It also involved active interventions in workers lives, both in terms of medical provision and sick pay, not just to the workers but also in relation to their families, as well as attention to physical fitness, healthy workplaces and moral improvement. These interventions happened across the working life course and this paper explores how those actions were implemented and articulated throughout the life cycle of employment, how they changed over time, and the impact they had on the worker’s themselves, By taking a life cycle approach to occupational health, this research sheds new light on the role of medical intervention in the workplace and of worker’s responses. (Show less)



Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer