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Clothes: What I Wear at Work

Conditions: What it's Like Where we Work


"Obviously at work there is a lot of open windows everywhere so it does get very cold so we've got a few fires lying around everywhere so you can stop and warm up a bit."


A young Sheffield steel worker next to a fire.
A Young Sheffield Steel Worker Next to a Fire.



"...he used to go home and his dad used to get him under the lamp right, and pick these marks off his eye after the days work sort of thing. I tell you what Ron, you often see a mirror in a grinding hull. It's not for cosmetic reasons it’s to have a look to see what's in your eyes. I mean some of them were good at getting them off but I’d preferred that then going to the hospital."

Grinder in a 1950's Workshop.  He is wearing a casual waistcoat and cap.  There is an overhead light and he is working in a brick area.
Grinder in a 1950's Workshop


Victorian Times

"I talked to both owners and workers about the conditions and dangers they face at work. I found that grinders are liable to frequent pain and sometimes serious injury or loss of eyesight from the mites or sharp particles of hot steel, which fly into their eyes when grinding. Some wear glasses but I did not notice many so protected. A fellow worker takes the mites out with a lancet or a sharp pin.

An illustration of a large group of mean centred around a fire.  Many of them hold tools.
Victorian Steel Workers Teeming Steel



  • What was one of the dangers for steel workers in Victorian times?
  • How was protection used to prevent loss of eyesight in Victorian times?
  • Which time period do you think has the best conditions for workers?