An SCI member for over 30 years, Carl Martin has served on the Health and Safety Technical Group Committee and talks here about his experiences on both a personal, and a professional level.
Would you tell us a little about your professional background?
CM: Health and Safety was a career change for me. Until then, I had been employed in production and development as an industrial chemist with Lever Brothers, Port Sunlight; Textile Research at Shirley Institute; Gourock Ropeworks, Port Glasgow and ICI Hyde (Leathercloth Division); Inveresk Paper; and Fothergill & Harvey Textiles, including PTFE coating of glass fabrics.
What attracted you to SCI’s Health and Safety Group?
CM: I felt it was a sensible move to become a member of the Group’s committee as I was going to a new job in charge of the Thorn chemical register with Thorn Lighting. At that time, Thorn Lighting had approximately 200 sites, and the chemical register’s responsibility was to coordinate information on the range of dangerous chemicals used: sodium, mercury, hydrofluoric acid and phosphors are used in fluorescent lights – also, zinc beryllium silicate that had been associated with cancer.
You have played a very active role on the Health and Safety committee over the years…
CM: Yes, I was Hon. Secretary for a number of years after I joined SCI in the 1970s. Later, I became Treasurer and also served on SCI’s Finance and Investments Advisory Committee and the SCI Council. I was eventually elected as Chairman of the Health and Safety Group. Today, as an ordinary member of the committee, I primarily coordinate our joint events with the British Occupational Hygiene Society and continue to organise other group events.
Any claims to fame?
CM: One perhaps – at Shirley Institute, I managed to persuade my superiors to do some fundamental work on gelating film, which was used in the ‘sizing’ of terylene, a completely new fibre at that time. Because of a shortage of money I was allowed to build a basic load/ extension machine out of a biscuit tin and the graph was traced on a sheet of photographic paper with a pencil of light.
This was kept in the dark until it was ready to be developed and later fixed. Professor Eric Rideal, who was a visiting professor at the time, was very interested in this when he came around the department, and as a result the work was published later in the Proceedings of the Royal Society under the thermal contraction of the protein gelatin. This was before the structure of DNA was unravelled.
As an interesting aside, when I married my wife in 1984, I discovered that she had been evacuated to the Rideals during the war with her family!
What do you think of your SCI experience to date?
CM: SCI has been a very worthwhile experience. You always meet interesting people at events and are always made to feel very welcome at all times. Currently, three generations of Martins are members.