James Tye, the founder of the British Safety Council and who passed away in 1996, has been brought roaring back to life in a BBC One Show feature about his campaign efforts to improve safety in Britain, presented by John Sergeant.

The programme, marking the 40th anniversary of the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974), featured archive footage of James being interviewed, highlighting safety issues that concerned him from life-jackets to seat belts and even his battles with royalty who, in his view, demonstrated unsafe behaviour. It also showcased interviews with British Safety Council trustee, Lawrence Waterman, and former Chief Press Officer, Tim Challis, who worked with James in the 1980’s.

“James was one of a few people in the 1950’s and 60’s who single-mindedly campaigned to make the world safer,” says Alex Botha, chief executive of the British Safety Council. “He was clearly seized by a mission to protect people from harm. As an advertising man, he used his skills to effectively capture the attention of the public and media to shame those who endangered others.”

“Over 1,000 workers were being killed at work in Great Britain when James began in the late 1950’s. Given that since then to today we have seen a reduction of fatalities by 85%, it is clear that James’s efforts have borne fruit. His legacy is plain to see not only in the legal framework created by the 1974 Act but also in something like the London 2012 Olympic build where for the first time no worker was killed. As the programme says, he succeeded because he was committed and because ultimately he was right. We at the British Safety Council are proud of our near 60 year history but we know that with 2.3 million workers across the globe dying each year from work-related activities, his mission to make the world safer continues to be an urgent and on-going one.”

The British Safety Council was founded  by James Tye in 1957 and for nearly 60 years has educated people about risks at work, principally though training, audits and campaigns. He had an international outlook, creating the International Safety Awards to recognise the best and which also promoted the safety message.

The One Show programme about the life of James Tye can be viewed here until Friday 5 September 2014, 7.29pm (film starts at 02:50).

Author: British Safety Council

The content of this article represents the personal views of the author and nothing is to be taken as representing the views, opinions, policy or position of any other persons or organisations mentioned herein or of The Institute of Demolition Engineers.