The formation and impact of hazard control policy
: a study of the regulation of white lead paint in Britain

  • R.A. Williams

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Government regulation of industrial hazards is examined in the context of the economic and technical processes of industrial development. Technical problems and costs of control are considered as factors in both the formation and impact of regulation. This thesis focuses on an historical case-study of the regulation of the hazard to painting workers from the use of lead pigments in paint. A regulatory strategy based on the prohibition of lead paints gained initial acceptance within the British state in 1911, but was subsequently rejected
    in favour of a strategy that allowed continued use of lead paint subject to hygiene precautions. The development of paint technology and its determinants, including concern about health hazards, are analysed, focusing on the innovation and diffusion into the paint industry of the major white pigments: white lead (PbC03 .PB(OH)2)and its substitutes. The process of regulatory development is examined, and the protracted and polarised regulatory d~bate contrasted to the
    prevailing 'consensual' methods of workplace regulation. The rejection of prohibition is analysed in terms of the different political and technical resources of those groups in conflict over this policy. This highlights the problems of consensus formation around such a strategy, and demonstrates certain
    constraints on state regulatory activity, particularly regarding industrial development. Member-states of the International Labour Organisation agreed to introduce partial prohibition of lead paint in 1921. Whether this was implemented is related to the economic importance of lead and non-lead metal and pigment industries to a nation. An analysis is made of the control of lead poisoning. The rate of control is related to the economic and technological
    trajectory of the regulated industry. Technical and organisational characteristics are considered as well as regulatory factors which range from voluntary compliance and informal pressures to direct legal requirements. The implications of this case-study for the analysis of the development and impacts of regulation are assessed.
    Date of AwardJan 1984
    Original languageEnglish


    • hazard
    • regulation
    • policy
    • paint
    • lead

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