In the second half of the 1980s in the United Kingdom an unprecedented series of major disasters occurred, resulting in the deaths of over one thousand people, with physical injury and trauma to many more. In the inquiries which followed, a disturbing pattern of common themes emerged, which was shared with deaths at work (‘creeping’ disasters). Government policies, which prioritised profit over safety, developing an enterprise culture of deregulation, privatisation, contracting out and constant re-organisation and managerialism, adversely affected health and safety at a regulatory level. Statutory regulation was shown to be inadequate or partial, poorly resourced, with an attitude of encouragement, rather than enforcement.