Tech Chronicles: What factories looked like before OSHA

1904 factory footage

Someone call OSHA, because we have a lot of visible violations in this video clip smuggled out from a factory, which looks like it’s manufacturing components for electrical power plants. No one is wearing helmets, fire suppression systems are not visible, and … Oh, never mind, it’s from 1904.

This clip was taken decades before the United States (and most other industrialized nations of the era) had modernized their industrial safety laws. The toll on workers was severe — just prior to the creation of OSHA in the early 1970s, an estimated 14,000 workers were killed on the job in the United States. By 2009, the number of deaths had dropped to 4,340 even while the number of workers has doubled.

The other thing that stood out about this clip are the number of people wearing semi-formal attire, including jackets, ties, white button-down shirts, bowlers, and leather shoes. It was clearly a different time.


This is an excerpt from Priority Payload Report.