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Tuesday, 4 September 2012

The Hapton Valley Mining Disaster 1962

An exhibition has been launched this week in Burnley, Lancashire to commemorate the Hapton Valley Mining disaster which happened 50 years ago in March 1962.

Nineteen workers died following an explosion in the mine 250’ under ground. A graphic account of the disaster appears in a contemporary news report –

"There was a terrible blast and we were all blown 10 or 15 yards along the face", said Mr. Jack Murray, aged 36, of Jockey Street, Burnley, senior man of the 90 fillers who were shovelling coal on their hands and knees. Other workers were close behind when the explosion happened at 9:45a.m.
"The next thing I knew was that I couldn't see a thing because of the thickness of coal dust in the air", said Mr. Murray, who suffered burns on his arms. "Some of the other 170 men working in the pit at the time were on the spot almost immediately with stretchers to carry out the wounded."

The exhibition began yesterday at the Towneley Hall Museum in Burnley and includes archive news footage of the tragedy –

Events like this remind us how far we have gone in improving safety standards for workers. There are those who criticise Health and Safety Laws and complain that they inhibit business. Earlier this year the Prime Minister declared his intention to ‘kill off’ the Health and Safety Culture –

But the truth is that thousands of workers can now leave home and not have to fear for their lives. The workplace is a healthier and safer place. Whilst there will always be incidents – often caused by cutting corners to save costs – there can be no doubting that Health and Safety have saved thousands from death or injury.

So as we remember those who perished in Hapton Valley 50 years ago we should not forget the changes from which we have all benefitted since then and do all we can to maintain a culture that ensures that people can do their jobs in safety and security.

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