To call the movement for better factory conditions the "humanizing of industry" implies that modern industry not influenced by that movement is brutalized. The brutalizing of industry was due chiefly to a general ignorance of health laws,—an ignorance that registers itself clearly and promptly in factory and mine. It is not that a man is expected to do too much, but that too little is expected of the human body. The present recognition of the body's right to vitality is not because the employer's heart is growing warmer, or because competition is less vicious, but because the precepts of hygiene are found to be practical. Where better ventilation used to mean more windows and repair bills, it now means greater output. Where formerly a comfortable place in which to eat lunch meant giving up a workroom and its profits, it now means 25 per cent more work done in all workrooms during the afternoon. The general enlightenment as to industrial hygiene has been accelerated by the awakening that always follows industrial catastrophes, by the splendid crusade against tuberculosis, and by compulsory notification and treatment of communicable diseases.
Catastrophes, however, have dominated the vocabulary that describes factory "welfare work." Because accidents such as gas in mines, fire in factories, fever in towns, and epidemics of diseases incident to certain trades were beyond the power of the workers themselves to control or prevent, wage earners have come to be looked upon as helpless victims of the cupidity and inhumanity of their employers. This attitude has weakened the usefulness of many bodies organized to promote industrial hygiene. Although the term "industrial hygiene" is broad enough to include all sanitary and hygienic conditions that surround the worker while at work, it is restricted by some to the efforts made by altruistic or farsighted employers in the interest of employees; others think of prohibitions and mandates, in the name of the state, that either prevent certain evils or compel certain benefits; for too few it refers to what the wage earner does for himself.
Pity for the employee has caused the motive power of the employee to be wastefully allowed to atrophy. Yet when a man becomes an employee, he does not forfeit any right of citizenship, nor does being an employee relieve him from the duties of citizenship. In too many cases it has been overlooked that a worker's carelessness about habits of health, as well as about his machinery, causes accidents and increases industrial diseases. Too often the worker himself is responsible for uncleanliness and lack of ventilation and his own consequent lack of vitality. A study into the conditions of ventilation and cleanliness of workers' homes will prove this.
Knowing that a light, well-aired, clean, safe factory would not of itself insure healthy men, many employers have built and supplied houses for their workmen at low rents. Just as these employers failed to see that they could reach more people and secure more permanent results if they demanded that tenement laws and the sanitary code be enforced as well as the laws for the instruction of children in hygiene, so the employee has failed to see that he is a part of the public that passes laws and determines the efficiency of factory inspection. The enforcement of state legislation for working hours, proper water and milk supply, proper teaching of children, proper tenement conditions, efficient health administration, is dependent upon the interest and activity of the public, of which the working class is no small or uninfluential part.
Country Club House For New York Social Workers Given By The Founder Of Caroline Rest Educational Fund
The first and most important step in securing hygienic rights for workingmen is to make sure that they know the rights that the law already gives them. Men still throw out their chests when talking of their rights. The posting of the game laws in a club last summer, and the instruction of all the natives of the countryside in regard to their rights as against those of outsiders, meant that for the first time in their history the game laws were enforced. All the natives, instead of poaching as has been their wont, joined together in protecting club property from intruding outside sportsmen. Poachers were caught and served with the full penalties of the law. Over winter fires these people's heroism will grow, but their respect for law will grow also, and it is doubtful if the game laws can be violated in that section so long as the tradition of this summer's work lives. And so it would be in a factory, if employees once realized that by uniting they could, as citizens, enforce health rights in the factory.