The 'Daily Herald' instituted the Order of Industrial Heroism in 1923 to recognise the ‘deeds of valour' of those workers who had saved their fellow workers from danger or death and became known as the "Workers' V.C.". Many of the 440 awards were posthumous. After a peak of 5235 recorded deaths in 1912, the number of industrial accidents was in decline, but in 1923 there were still 3302 deaths, almost 1300 in coal mines alone. The award helped focus attention on workplace hazards and was prompted by public outrage at the meagre £17 reward shared between 4 dockworkers, who had extinguished a major fire in the Liverpool docks, thereby saving the docks, shipping and a large part of the city. The award continued to be presented until 1964 when the newspaper closed to be replaced by the 'Sun'.
The medal for the Order of Industrial Heroism was designed by the sculptor, Eric Gill, who chose the image of St Christopher bearing the Christ Child for his main theme.