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The HM munitions factory at Queensferry employed 7,000 people at its peak during the First World War, with females comprising the majority of the production staff. The factory specialized in the manufacture of high explosives and gun cotton (explosive cellulose nitrate) which posed serious health and safety hazards for the employees. Given the hazardous nature of these materials, it is remarkable that only four people lost their lives as a result of accidents in the factory. However, serious injuries, burns and ill health were extremely common and over 12,500 accidents were reported during 1917-18.

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