Paul Murley joined Westland as an Apprentice Engineer in 1945 and rose to the position of Engineering Services Manager completing 44 yrs service. He remembers how health and safety was paid little attention in his early days working at the Yeovil factory

When I joined the company you’d have a whole row of the Bell helicopter. You’d have a whole row of Wessex and, when I mean a row, I’m talking twenty or thirty aircraft at a time, all in different stages of manufacture. But the noise was unbelievable.

Interviewer: What was creating all the noise?

The rivet guns, the rivet guns. You know, you’d take it in turns. Some would have the power gun on the outside and then somebody would have to go inside of the airframe. The airframe is like a cave, right? So, you’d get into this body. You imagine, there’s somebody outside that you shout “Right”  brrrrrrrrrr. “Right” brrrrrr. Right? And, that’s all day long. Not just for five minutes – that’s all day long. Then the next aircraft to you – brrrrrrrrrr, brrrrrrrrrrr. That’s all you’d get, all day. But you got used to it.

Interviewer: Did you wear ear defenders?

No, you didn’t. Didn’t give it a thought. It’s like so many things like that isn’t it? You know health and safety has gone crazy but in other cases yes, I fully understand. My hearings not too bad but I’m sure a lot of people would have suffered. But we didn’t give it a thought. You just got on with the job because that’s all they knew. When you think about people loading equipment on aircraft that had been jacked-up, I mean we wouldn’t do that these days. We’d make sure that everything was safe for you to go on and you’d have harnesses and all the rest of it. But you didn’t worry about that because we didn’t know any different.

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