Edwin Chadwick was commissioned by the government to undertake an investigation into sanitation and make recommendations on improving conditions. What followed was the independent and self-funded Report on the sanitary conditions of the labouring population of Great Britain.
Chadwick found that there was a link between poor living standards and the spread and growth of disease. He recommended that the government should intervene by providing clean water, improving drainage systems and enabling local councils to clear away refuse from homes and streets. To persuade the government to act, Chadwick argued that the poor conditions endured by impoverished and ailing labourers were preventing them from working efficiently.