Social Aspects of Industry: A Survey of Labor Problems and Causes of Industrial Unrest

By S. Howard Patterson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
INDUSTRIAL HAZARDS AND SOCIAL INSURANCE

HUMAN SAFETY AND FINANCIAL COMPENSATION

1. Extent of Industrial Accidents. -- Modern methods of production are not only strenuous but also dangerous. It was stated in the last chapter that the problem of human conservation involves not only the amelioration of industrial fatigue but also the reduction of industrial accidents. It was also demonstrated that there is a causal relationship between excessive hours of work and industrial accidents. It would seem that the common and related causes of many industrial accidents are the extreme fatigue of the workers and the excessive speed of the machinery.

The absence of complete and reliable statistics makes it impossible to state definitely the number and severity of industrial accidents within the United States. The jurisdiction of the Federal government extends merely over accidents in interstate commerce. In some states the statistics of industrial accidents are well kept but in other states they are incomplete and inaccurate. There is little uniformity throughout the country in methods of accounting and in the forms used for recording industrial accidents.

The future development of protective legislation for the workers must be accompanied by the compiling of more complete and accurate statistics. The common acceptance by all the states of standardized forms for the reporting of industrial accidents would be a great step forward. The American Association for Labor Legislation is at present seeking the universal adoption of such an improved and standardized form.

Several studies have been made of the extent of industrial accidents, as based on the data of some large insurance companies and on the statistics of certain progressive states. Thus, in 1908 Dr. F. L. Hoffman, statistician of the Prudential Life Insurance Company, estimated that the annual number of fatal injuries to workers was from thirty to thirtyfive thousand and that the annual number of industrial accidents of varying degrees of severity was about two million. In 1913, he estimated that the number of fatal industrial accidents for that year was about twenty-five thousand and the total number of injuries involving more than 4 weeks of disability was about seven hundred thousand. 1

The National Safety Council estimated that there occurred in 1919 about twenty-three thousand fatal accidents, about five hundred and

____________________
1
U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bulletin157.

-247-

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