Immigration and Labor: The Economic Aspects of European Immigration to the United States

By Isaac A. Hourwich | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXII
WORK ACCIDENTS

THE greatest of all the dangers of the new immigration, which have been discovered by the investigation of the Immigration Commission, is that their employment in mines and manufactures jeopardizes the lives of American wage-earners. The Commission has devoted to the subject a special chapter in its report on bituminous coal mines.1 Its conclusions are summarized by Professors Jenks and Lauck as follows2

"The responsibility for accidents rests in most cases with the men injured . . . they know little or nothing of rock formations, of fire damp, of the properties of coal dust, and of the handling of explosives --matters about which every coal miner should be thoroughly informed. To determine whether a piece of slate or roof is or is not likely to fall often requires a considerable degree of experience, and the majority of the Slavs, Magyars, and Italians have not this experience. Another element of danger is contributed by the fact that few of the recent immigrants speak or understand English, while almost none are able to read or write the language. It is propable that the instructions of the mine bosses and inspectors are, because of this fact, frequently:

The lack of industrial training and experience of the recent immigrant before coming to the United States, together with his illiteracy and inability to speak English, has had the effect of exposing the original employees to unsafe and unsanitary working conditions, or has

____________________
1
1 Reports of the Immigration Commission, vol. 6, chapter viii., pp. 209-241; also, pp. 491-492, 543, 651-652; vol. 7, pp. 68-69.
2
The Commission is, of course, not responsible officially for the statement of those authors. But the book is very largely a verbatim transcript of the most essential portions of the Commission's voluminous report. On the subject of accidents, the report of the Commission says in Volume 6:

-458-

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