Lesson 4: Health and Safety at Work

In this lesson pupils will become familiar with the hazards involved in growing, harvesting and processing flax. They will have an opportunity to create a health and safety leaflet for flax workers which may be carried out digitally.

Main Areas of Curricular Focus

Lesson Plan

 

Learning Intentions

Learning Intentions

Pupils will:

  • understand the hazards involved in the production of linen in the past;
  • be aware of dangers in some occupations today and understand that employers and employees have responsibilities for maintaining a safe working environment; and
  • be able to present information on health and safety issues at work in leaflet format.
  • dangerous
  • lint-dam
  • pouce
  • injuries
  • protective clothing

Starter

Starter

Ask pupils if they know of any jobs which are dangerous and how employees are protected from danger. You could give the example of a builder who could damage his foot when working and therefore is required to wear steel-capped boots. Give pupils three minutes to discuss this question and then take feedback. Now display Resource 1.15: Dangerous Jobs (IWB) and discuss the dangers of these occupations and the reasons for safety precautions.

  • dangerous
  • lint-dam
  • pouce
  • injuries
  • protective clothing

Resources

Resource 1.15: Dangerous Jobs (IWB)

Main Lesson

Main Lesson

Explain the problem of pouce
  • Pouce (Ulster-Scots 'powce') was the name of the dust created in the breaking and scutching phases of getting the flax ready to be made into cloth. The workers breathed it in. It was bad for their lungs and caused breathing problems, and often caused long-term hoarseness.

Display Resource 1.16: Beetling, Scutching and Hackling Flax (IWB). This picture shows a family at work preparing the flax in their cottage over 200 years ago. Two of the women are scutching. What is the man doing? Everybody is breathing in the dust, including two children. The older girl is breaking the flax before it is scutched.

Also show again the sequence of film of scutching in the mill LINT AND LINEN scuttching the flax and making linen (watch from 3.39). Ask pupils in what ways the scutching machine could be dangerous. Expect – injuries to hands, losing fingers. James Fenton, writing about the scutching process recalls that the children were, ‘cairryin in beets tae the bak binch’. You may want to discuss with pupils how hard this manual work was for children and other workers.

Pupil Activity

After looking at the picture of the processes, ask pupils to talk in pairs about the hazards of linen production and at what stages these hazards occurred. Some may occur at more than one stage, for example back problems at the weeding and pulling stages (weeg an poo – these Ulster-Scots words mean to pull laboriously by hand). When workers were bending and stretching in Ulster-Scots it is known as ‘bennin an strechtin’ which was hard work or ‘wuz sore gan’ and ‘ill on the bak an war on the hans an airms’ (hard on the back and worse on the hands and arms).

Display Resource 1.17: Hazards of Linen Production (IWB).

To assist with this activity display the stages of the process in order again, from sowing through to hackling, Resource 1.5: Stages of Growing Flax (IWB) and Resource 1.10: Flax Processes (IWB).

Give pupils 10 minutes for discussion. Then ask each pair to join up with another pair and share their answers. Pupils should now be aware that working in the flax industry was an unpleasant and hard job and that the workers did not have the same protective items of clothing that they have today. You may wish to encourage pupils to include some Ulster-Scots words and phrases.

Risks at work

Explain that today employers are required by law to keep workers safe. This includes giving guidance about how to deal with risks. Give examples, such as a person who works at a computer all day, see Resource 1.18: Working at the Computer (IWB).

Pupil Activity

How would you advise workers to keep safe and healthy if they were sowing, pulling flax, gathering into beets, retting, breaking and scutching or hackling? You may wish pupils to use Consider All Factors: Active Learning and Teaching Methods for Key Stages 1&2, page 9.

In pairs, pupils should produce a health and safety leaflet with a picture which represents the health and safety advice required for flax workers. Below their picture, pupils should write advice for workers for one of the stages, suggesting how they might minimise risks and hazards when working. Pupils can work on different stages, see Resource 1.19: Advice for Flax Workers (Poster Templates).

Before asking them to create their leaflets discuss with pupils the kinds of things that workers could do to protect themselves. For example, workers could wear masks to protect them from pouce when breaking or scutching; they could wear wellington boots in the wet and protective gloves when pulling or scutching. Pupils may wish to use bullet points to make their leaflet clear. Some activities will have more than one hazard. You may also wish to use Resource 1.20: Advice for Flax Workers (IWB) as a modelled example.

Plenary

Plenary

Invite pupils to come together as a whole class to discuss and share their work. They should vote using the 'thumbs up method' about their understanding of the learning intentions.

  • dangerous
  • lint-dam
  • pouce
  • injuries
  • protective clothing

Assessment Opportunity

Assessment Opportunity

If you wish to assess pupils’ responses to this lesson, see the suggestion below.

You may wish to use UICT Assessment Task: Design a Leaflet – Desirable Features: Desktop Publishing (Levels 3-5) as an assessed activity.

  • dangerous
  • lint-dam
  • pouce
  • injuries
  • protective clothing

Resources

UICT Assessment Task: Design a Leaflet – Desirable Features: Desktop Publishing (Levels 3-5)

Other Activities

Additional Pupil Activities

1. Letter Writing

Imagine you are a farm worker getting the flax ready to be made into cloth. Write a letter, which should include some Ulster-Scots vocabulary, to a cousin who lives in a big town describing your work. You may wish to think about and include some of the following:

  • Ask your cousin some questions about how she/he is getting on, what they are doing etc.;
  • Describe what you do with the flax after it has been harvested (pulled);
  • Say what you like and what you don’t like about your job; and
  • Discuss how you feel about your job and what you do with your work mates.

Use TS&PC Thinking Card: Being clear about what you have to do and TS&PC Thinking Card: Getting organised and making a plan.

Pupils may use the letter template, Resource 1.21: Letter Writing (Template). Remind pupils to include the date below the address.

2. Create an audio file

Pupils should create an audio file of sounds to represent what is happening in Resource 1.16: Beetling, Scutching and Hackling Flax.

Ask pupils to look carefully at Resource 1.16 and discuss what they see. Ask pupils to discuss what noises would be in this small room. They may suggest coughing from the pouce, the noise of the children playing etc. Now ask if they can create a sound story to represent the picture and then record the sounds which have been made. Pupils may wish to use GarageBand Software (iPad or Mac), Audacity (for PC use) or alternative Apps.

Links to Curriculum

Cross-Curricular Skills

Cross-Curricular Skills: Communication

Children should be given opportunities to engage with and demonstrate the skill of communication and to transfer their knowledge about communication concepts and skills to real-life meaningful contexts across the curriculum. (Language and Literacy)

Talking and Listening
  • Participate in group discussions about the hazards of harvesting flax and processing it.
Reading
  • Justify their responses logically by inference, deduction and/or reference to Ulster-Scots vocabulary.
Writing
  • Write for a variety of purposes and audiences, selecting, planning and using appropriate style and form to design a leaflet.

Cross-Curricular Skills: Using Information and Communications Technology

Using Information and Communications Technology across the curriculum has the potential to transform and enrich pupils' learning experiences and environments.

Across the curriculum, at a level appropriate to their ability, pupils should develop their ICT skills to:

Explore
  • access, select, interpret and research information from safe and reliable sources; and
  • investigate, make predictions and solve problems through interaction with digital tools.
Express
  • create, develop, present and publish ideas and information responsibly using a range of digital media and manipulate a range of assets to produce multimedia products.
Evaluate
  • talk about, review and make improvements to work, reflecting on the process and outcome and consider the sources and resources used, including safety, reliability and acceptability.
Exhibit
  • manage and present their stored work and showcase their learning across the curriculum, using ICT safely and responsibly.

TS&PC

WAU: History

The World Around Us: History

Interdependence
  • Technological change and the impact of inventors and inventions over time.

PD&MU

Personal Development & Mutual Understanding

Strand 1 (Personal Understanding and Health)
  • How to sustain health, growth and well-being and coping safely and efficiently with their environment.

Active Learning and Teaching Methods

Active Learning and Teaching Methods for Key Stage 2

These active teaching and learning approaches encourage active participation from pupils, making the learning a more relevant and enjoyable experience.

Pupils may use the Consider All Factors approach when thinking about the dangers involved in the stages of the flax processing.

Suggested Websites & Resources

In partnership with  Ulster Scots Agency