A Brief History of U.S. Jobsite Safety
As you tighten your tie or lace up your boots for the long day of work ahead, you might sigh a heavy breath and trudge your way in. It may seem daunting to sit in a cubicle all day long or stand on your feet for 8 hours; but for past workers in American history, this would have brought a sigh of relief. Workplace safety and fair treatment has been a topic of discussion throughout the past century but the safety we know today was not easy to obtain.
Where Jobsite Safety Regulation Began
Due to how little written information there is on the subject before 1880, it is generally assumed that there was not much regulation in place until after this time period. During the second industrial revolution (1871-1914) and the rise of progressivism (1900-1920), the construction of the railroad and rapid establishment of production factories prompted a hard look at the need for law regarding workplace safety and jobsite risk assessment. Over the course of the twentieth century, several important events would slowly shape the standards for this important aspect of our daily lives.
In 1911, a devastating factory fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company in New York claimed the lives of 145 workers, mostly young girls. This catastrophe sparked the public demand for government to take responsibility over such preventable tragedies.
Government Regulation Begins:
In 1913, the U.S. Department of Labor was formed and this began true federal influence in the realm of workplace safety.
Standards Are Recognized:
In 1934, the Bureau of Labor Standards was created for those interested in job safety and health. As the first permanent federal agency in this sector, it worked to promote safety and health for all aspects of the work force.
Law is Placed:
From 1965 to 1970, there were several acts in place to protect certain groups of workers. However, it was not until the Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA) of 1970 that a complete standard for all types of work and service was established. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was created in 1971 to enforce such laws.
Public Health Promotion:
Though standards for public health had been established long before the late twentieth century, it was not noted how relevant it was to workplace safety until the eighties. In 1986 the Division of Injury Control was established within the Centers for Disease Control and began working to establish injury prevention tactics and violence awareness programs.
The Current State of Jobsite Safety
Today we see these administrations and legislations still in full effect. It is easy to forget that our country is young and barely 100 years ago, our workplace tactics would seem barbaric in today’s context. So the next time you tighten your tie or lace up your boots for the long day ahead, you should breathe a sigh of relief knowing that there are thousands of people working every day to ensure your fair treatment and safety on the job.