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Disability and work in the coal economy
in Disability in the Industrial Revolution

The expansion of the coal industry was widely associated with growing risks to mineworkers, but the exact scale of injury or disablement is difficult to document in an era where reporting of non-fatal accidents was patchy and where there was little consensus on what constituted a 'serious injury'. This chapter examines the nature of mine work and the development of mining in the nineteenth century, paying special attention to the factors that enabled injured workers to participate in the working life of collieries and the extent to which they did so. To understand perceptions and experiences of disability during industrialisation it is necessary to examine the nature of 'industrial work' in all its forms. Finally, the chapter examines the experiences of injured or impaired miners in more detail to reassess the relationship between 'disability' and the industrial workplace.

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Disability in the Industrial Revolution

Physical impairment in British coalmining, 1780–1880

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