The Factory Acts were laws passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom beginning in 1802 to improve the conditions of workers in factories. The first ones were to protect young children employed in cotton mills. The Act of 1844. was concerned to protect women. After 1819 children under 9 were not supposed to be employed. The later ones limited the millworkers to a ten-hour day. After the 1860s more industries were brought within the Factory Acts.
There wasnt much enforcement until in 1833 a professional Factory Inspectorate was started. Before that it was down to local magistrates. The inspectors had the right to enter any cotton mill at work, and powers to introduce regulations. The inspectors are now part of the Health and Safety Executive.