RoSPA’s World War 2 Safety Posters

RoSPA realised that "an accident in the works is as much a gain to the enemy as a casualty in the forces"

During World War 2, RoSPA produced a series of accident prevention posters aimed at workers in the industrial factories and workshops supplying the British war effort. These posters were produced as industrial safety propaganda to support the production drive that supplied the armed services. The posters were commissioned by RoSPA and underwritten by Ernest Bevin's Ministry of Labour.

Here is a selection of RoSPA posters from World War 2

A WWII poster designed by Tom EckersleyRoSPA’s accident prevention posters were produced during World War 2, under severe financial and time pressures. The posters were part of a package of propaganda material sent out to the member factories and workshops. The "Industrial Service" was delivered on a subscription basis, and comprised pamphlets and educational notes along with three types of poster. The posters were of the slogan, the comic-strip and the message varieties.

RoSPA recognised that its propaganda would remain ineffective without a safety structure in place among the management and workforce of client firms. Accordingly, they suggested that safety representatives should be chosen to initiate new workers and that, in addition to a tour of the factory, the initiation should include demonstrations and talks. These would obviously be more effective if carried out in a designated "classroom" space, and it was suggested that a permanent poster display environment should be maintained within this space. Other designated display sites should also be established in the workspace and in the social areas. RoSPA suggested that their poster material should be displayed so as to alternate slogan posters with visual material. The displays should be maintained, RoSPA suggested, so as not to become stale and to engage the workforce with a regularly-changing series of messages.

Tom Eckersley was RoSPA's most prolific designer during World War 2. He was able, through a process of visualising, to imagine a solution to a particular RoSPA brief while working as a cartographer on his RAF maps. Immediately he was home he would rush to the studio and complete the artwork for submission. Here is a selection of posters designed by Tom Eckersley for RoSPA during World War 2.

Images used with the kind permission of Paul and Karen Rennie, Folkestone. Paul and Karen are keen to hear from anybody involved with RoSPA's safety campaigns from the 40s and 50s. Visit their website at: www.rennart.co.uk.

With thanks to the Estate of Tom Eckersley, the Estate of Abram Games and the Estate of Arnold Rothholz. The Eckersley Archive is held at the London College of Communication.


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