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"Except machinery," remarked Howell Calamity, airily.
"No, sir, except nothing. Machinery doesn't cause the most accidents in industry and it doesn't cause the worst ones,
either. There are more men and
“I do,” said Dr. Frank. “Figures like these are very interesting.”
"Well—in the year 1914, in industries and everywhere else in the United States, over 15,000
persons died from injuries received "Of all causes of accidents, the law of gravitation is responsible by falling; that's nearly one-fifth
of all the fatal accidents of every kind reported in the entire country. The most recent annual reports from seven states, Washington, Ohio, Maryland, California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and New York, show that 1,051, or nearly two-fifths of the 2,721 fatal industrial accidents occurring in those States, were caused by falls!"
“But what kind of falls?” asked the Parson.
“The Pennsylvania Labor Commissioner's summary of 379 fatal accidents reported to him during 1914 should answer your question, Mr. Hathaway. Three died by falls from ladders; 5 by falls into holes; 6 by slipping and tripping on the floor or ground; 11 by falls from scaffolds, 54 by falls from other high places and another 54 by being struck by things which fell. So you see the law of gravitation killed 133 out of the total of 379.”
Howell Calamity had been squirming in his chair as Tom was speaking. “It's hard to dispute such a mountain of figures, Mr. True, but I can't swallow your statement about machinery dangers, for I've heard otherwise."
“I can understand that, Howell,” answered the unruffled Tom. “Many people exaggerate such things through instinctive morbidness, just as Johnnie is apt to exaggerate the accident that sent the ambulance flying down the street a while ago. I know the facts because I have just finished a careful study of the subject. And all reports generally agree that machinery is responsible for only about one-fifth of all accidents in industry, whether fatal or not; the other four-fifths are not connected with machinery at all.”
“You are now speaking of accidents in industry, Mr. True," said Dr. Frank. “But what were the chief causes of fatal accidents in the United States, industrial and otherwise?"
"I'll have to give you more figures, Doctor. I'm using round numbers. There were about 82,000 fatalities; 25,000 of them in the industries, the other 57,000 outside of industry. Falls, as I said before, lead the list with 15,000. Next come railroads with 13,000; next vehicles, including autos and street cars, with over 9,000. What do you suppose comes next, Mr. Calamity?”
“Machinery,” growled Howell. "Drowning, with 9,000 victims." "Drowning!" Howell snapped. “Yes, sir. Four times as many people are drowned every
year as are killed by machinery."
“I can understand that,” said Mr. Hathaway, thoughtfully. “Drowning includes pleasure as well as business. We have the sailor, the fisherman, and others who get their living out of the sea. And we have those who swim and row and sail and fish and skate for the fun of it. And there are the courageous fellows who go down while trying to rescue others. Yes,
in such vast country as this, “Four times as many people are
there must be many lives lost by machinery”
“The other great causes are what?" asked the Doctor.
“Burns with 7,700, mining with 3,800, heat with 2,700, and Friend Calamity's bugaboo, machinery, with 2,230, just 34 more than are killed by fire-arms."
“I suppose your figures are correct if the United States and our
State authorities say so,” replied Howell, doggedly. “But if employers would only put guards and that sort of thing on all their machinery, there would be no machinery accidents at all."
"Now I know you've been talking with a safety crank, Howell. But he told you only one side of the story. Even when guards are put on machines the fellows have got to be careful or they're going to get hurt. Your friend didn't tell you that in New York the State Inspectors followed up 1,571 of the most serious machinery accidents they knew of and tried to learn why the guards didn't stop the accidents. They found that over one-half of the accidents happened where employers had provided the machines with the best guards possible, or where the inspector confessed that no guard could possibly be used; and in 168 other cases the workmen had either neglected to use the guards provided or had actually chucked them off the machines."
“The more I listen, the more I am convinced that carelessness plays the very devil in this accident business," said the Doctor. "Just as it does in sickness.”
"I'd like to say one thing," said Abe Jennings. “One great cause of accidents, it seems to me, is that foremen give their workmen defective tools, such as hammers with weak handles,
poor wrenches, and cheap tools of all sorts."
“Now, Abe, whatever we do, we should stick to the facts," answered True. "Here is what the California State Report says about the very thing you
mention: Of 5,700 acci“Now, Abe, whatever we do, we should
dents caused by hand tools
in the entire State, only 684 resulted from tools that were defective. And right here I should add that oneeighth of all the temporary accidents in that State were caused by ordinary, every-day slivers and sharp-pointed or sharp-edged things such as you have in the scrap pile in your back yard.”
“And let me say," put in the Doctor, “in Ohio one-tenth of the injuries reported were not serious originally, but became serious through neglect and infection, causing 30 deaths and a great deal of physical distress and permanent harm.”
The Parson shook his head. “More criminal carelessness," he said.
“I have been gathering some material for a paper for the Medical Society,” said Dr. Frank. “Putting two and two together, I find that over thirty times as many persons die of pneumonia each year in the United States as are killed in manufacturing. And over fifty times as many die of tuberculosis."
"Ah! There you struck it!" cried Miss Grump, excitedly. “Did you hear what the Doctor said? Where were those unfortunates working when they took the tuberculosis germs into their systems? And where is it that our poor people overwork themselves and lower their resistance so that they may fall an easy prey to tuberculosis? Answer me that, Thomas True!”
“I'll answer both questions myself,” said the Doctor. “Tom mustn't poach on my preserves. My dear young woman, you're on the wrong track entirely. Tuberculosis is not essentially a mill disease. It's more of a bedroom disease, a home disease, and people are more likely to carry it from the home and street to the shop than from the shop to the home. recent investigation covering an average section of the country, it was found that more tuberculosis victims were engaged in housekeeping than in any other occupation. And this is to be expected, for the average home does not maintain so high a standard of sanitation and ventilation as the average shop.”
“And listen to this from the 'International . Moulders' Journal': During 1913 the International Moulders'
Union paid sick benefits to 12,153 members, but only 254 were afflicted with tuberculosis, indicating that the foundry is not a good breeding place for the white plague. To be sure this is only one branch of industry, but I am convinced that if all workers
should live as well outside of persons die os pneumonia as are killed in manufacturing"
industry as they do in industry,
tuberculosis would diminish very rapidly,' continued the Doctor."
“But, Doctor," said Polly,"don't the dusty jobs cause tuberculosis?”
"No," said the Doctor. “Unless the tuberculosis germ is in the dust itself, which is much less likely in the factory than in the street, where consumptives spit, and where the spit dries up and mixes with the dust which floats in the air we breathe. But understand me, Polly, when much dust is breathed anywhere, even in the room you sweep, it is bad for the lungs and makes it easier for consumption germs or other diseases to take hold.”
“Anyway,” asserted Howell Calamity, “Germany is away. ahead of us in the accident prevention game. It seems incredible that this great enlightened nation of ours should not take at least as good care of its workers as does the German Empire.”
"Now you're off your trolley again, Howell," said Tom True. “Germany may be ahead of the United States in some things, but she's not ahead of us in the prevention of industrial accidents. The most recent figures available in Germanycovering the period just before the war–show that for every 61 industrial fatalities in the United States there were 65 in Germany.