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An Employer's Views on Safety Services
of Governmental Agencies
U. S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
DIVISION OF LABOR STANDARDS
Approximately a year ago the Division of Labor Standards
published a pamphlet entitled "Factory Inspection Standards
and Qualifications for Factory Inspectors." This statement of
some of the problems of factory inspection was the result of more
than a year's work on the part of the Division's Advisory Com-
mittee on Safety and Health, composed of seven outstanding
authorities in the field of industrial safety and health.
A logical sequel to the matter of factory-inspection standards
is the viewpoint of the industrial executive toward the safety
service rendered by State factory-inspection agencies. In other
words, what does the employer as a taxpayer get for his money?
What does he have a right to expect from State factory-inspection
service? What are his duties and obligations in this connection?
At the twenty-eighth National Safety Congress held in Atlantic
City during the week of October 16, 1939, a special session was
held on governmental safety service in industry. One of the
principal speakers in this group was W. H. Winans of the Union
Carbide Co., New York City, who set forth the employer's
views on safety service of governmental agencies.
This address was so well received by Government labor offi-
cials, workers, and employers that the Division of Labor Stand-
ards publishes it herewith as a criterion of what State inspection
service might well be.
VERNE A. ZIMMER, Director.
Division of Labor Standards.
APRIL 2, 1940.
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What Do I Get for My Money?
An Employer's Views on Safety Services of Governmental
A Talk Given by W. H. WINANS at the Governmental Safety Service
in Industry Session, 28th National Safety Congress, Atlantic City,
N. J., Thursday, October 19, 1939
To amplify the subject of this address, it might be rephrased in
these words: "What accident-prevention service should the
employer get from the State in return for his taxes?"
Accordingly I am not referring here to Federal governmental
services, such as those furnished by the United States Bureau of
Mines, Division of Labor Standards, Public Health Service, and
other Federal agencies. Nor am I including the city departments
of public hygiene and other municipal agencies. However, I
think it is fair to state that the principles set forth apply equally
to all governmental agencies.
State laws referring to health and safety in industry have a
twofold purpose: (1) To protect the worker from occupational
injury and occupational disease-to reduce the economic loss of
such disabilities to the worker and his dependents, and (2) to
reduce wastage of the human resources of the State in lost
working time and impaired working capacity, and to reduce the
money cost of accidents which comes out of the total production
of the State through such expenses as high insurance costs, loss
of production and loss of manpower.
There are two methods necessary to achieve this twofold
1. The policing process which involves the enforcement of law, codes, and
2. The research and educational process which involves methods and
practices of preventing accidents and occupational disease.
THREE TYPES OF EMPLOYERS
Several types of employers must be dealt with in attacking these
problems. There are at least three types readily recognized:
1. Those employers whose slogan is "profit at any price" and who evade
the law until they get caught.
2. Those who obey the law but do no more.
3. Those who strive to prevent accidents, law or no law. These employers
realize it is good business and morally right to prevent accidents and occu-
The State department charged with the responsibility of
accident and disease prevention in industry must keep both of the
above stated methods in mind and all of these three types of
employers in mind.
The question immediately arises: "Can the two methods of
policing and education be carried on by one State department,
by one inspector in his district, or must these methods be followed
by separate agencies of Government?" There is, as you know, a
difference of opinion on this question. The practice of combining
the two functions of policing and education in one department
and the practice of separating these functions are both followed
in different States. It is not my intention to argue for either
THE REAL JOB OF ACCIDENT PREVENTION
Recently I came across an excellent statement of the real job
of the State in accident prevention, and I take the liberty of
presenting this statement from the Safety Manual issued by
Alabama in 1939:
Since the full cost of and damage done by all injuries to workers must
finally be borne by all the people it is only proper for the State of Alabama
acting through the department of industrial relations to take an active part
in the effort to prevent such injuries. The board of appeals has been given
the duty of adopting rules defining exactly what is meant by "reasonably
safe" and the director of industrial relations is required to enforce them
through inspection. In fact, his duty goes much farther than this for it is
obvious that the larger purpose of this legislation is to prevent injuries to the
workers of this State. That is the fundamental reason for the passage of the
act. Actually, therefore, the director is required to do everything in his
power to keep the working people of Alabama from suffering injury while at
their work earning a living. As an agent of the State, he must go much
beyond mere law enforcement. He must not only do everything in his power
to show the employers and their employees how to eliminate work injuries
but he must also encourage and stimulate them to do so by any and every
means at his command, including the making of specific suggestions as to
practical means of correcting unsafe conditions and practices. He needs and
solicits the full and earnest support of every employer, every employee, and,
in fact, every citizen of the State in his efforts to fulfill his duty adequately.
The fact that almost all occupational injuries can be prevented and the
further fact that everyone-employer, employee, and the State alike-suffers
serious loss from the failure to prevent them, is sufficient reason why every
employer or other person should obey reasonable rules drafted in the interest
of safety. Should any refuse to do so it is the clear duty of the director and
his agents to compel compliance under the law.
WHAT MAY EMPLOYERS EXPECT?
What has the employer, large or small, with a good or bad
safety record, a right to expect and even demand from the State
agency or agencies responsible for accident and disease preven-
tion? I will attempt to outline some specific items, as follows:
1. The employer has a right to expect definite regulations or codes for the
application of the basic law of the State. These must be understandable,
reasonable, and practicable. They should be drawn up in cooperation with
experienced industrial safety men, experienced workmen,- experienced
industrial physicians, experienced engineers, practical industrial lawyers,
and experienced public administrators. You may add more to this list,
but you must not omit one of those mentioned if you want to have the
2. The employer has the right to expect nonpolitical cooperation on the
part of the Government officials with employers, with labor, and others in
advising the State legislature on changes in the law which have been proposed
or may be needed, and in securing from the legislature proper appropriations
for the administration of the law.
3. The employer has the right to expect recognition from the governor
right through the entire executive branch of the State government to the
factory inspector himself, that safety and health in industry is not a political
issue and those charged with this vital State function must stay out of politics
and must not be molested for political purposes in the administration of their
4. The employer has the right to expect intelligent, trustworthy, informed,
practical, and enthusiastic leadership and administration on the part of the
executive head of the State agency responsible for this work.
5. The employer has the right to expect that the appointment and re-
tention of competent staff members in the State agency shall be on a non-
6. The employer has the right to expect fair, uniform, honest, and reason-
able enforcement of the law and the regulations.
7. The employer has the right to expect cooperation from the State agency
in applying the most effective known methods of accident and disease pre-
vention and in developing better methods for safeguarding old hazards and
devising new methods to meet new hazards. Well tried and effective
practices and organization structure along these lines are evident in the work
of the division of safety and hygiene of Ohio. The work of this division
includes plant surveys without expense to the employer, leadership in arrang-
ing safety conferences, safety contests, educational meetings, etc.
8. The employer has the right to expect sincere and dominating interest
of the executive head of the State agency because of his consciousness of the
damage to the lives and happiness of human beings caused by occupational
accidents and disease.
9. And last-the employer should feel dead sure that, if he or any other
employer in the State violates the law and the regulations, sooner or later
he will get caught. In other words, enforcement should be positive, aggres-
sive and universal.
WHAT SHOULD THE INSPECTOR DO?
How can all this be done? There is only one way that I know
of and that is by persistent hard work, intelligent cooperation of
all concerned, and the application of accumulated experience.
Now, specifically, what should the inspector, the safety engineer,
or the industrial hygienist do to carry out his full responsibility?
Here are some illustrations:
1. He must first know the law he is trying to enforce, the codes and the
regulations issued thereunder, and must be able to explain their application
and the effective known means of compliance.
2. He must know the mechanical, educational, and organizational methods
that are in approved use.
3. He must know the current accident and disease experience of the in-
dustry which is being inspected and must be able to recognize potential and
actual accident and disease hazards.
4. He must have enough practical industrial background to understand
practical operating problems, so as to issue compliance orders when necessary
that are reasonable and enforceable, both as to cost and effectiveness. For
example, he should not make the mistake that a State inspector recently
made in a plant with which I am personally familiar. This inspector was
anxious to be helpful and, in inspecting a punch press which was equipped
with a home-made guard, advised the plant engineer that he had seen a
punch-press guard in another plant the previous day, which he felt would be
much better and that this guard could be purchased at reasonable cost and
could be installed promptly. While he did not issue an order, he did recom-
mend the change to the other guard. The engineer followed the inspector's
advice and installed the new guard, and the first day it was in use the
operator lost two fingers.
The moral: Let us not permit our enthusiasm for new devices to lead us into new
5. He must be able and anxious to supply upon request suggestions, data,
and other helpful information regarding accident and disease prevention
devices and practices, but such information when furnished should be based
on practical knowledge of its effectiveness.
6. He must be courteous and respectful in order to merit the respect of
employers and workers. Disregarding this item may interfere completely
with results he might otherwise secure.
7. He must be human enough to understand others. He must observe
the safety rules of the plant he is in, such as smoking in certain departments,
the wearing of goggles, etc. He should commend workers on observed good
housekeeping, safe tools, proper clothing, use of safeguards, etc., in order that
they may realize the importance attached to such practices by the Govern-
ment inspector. He should also be willing to take time to help the plant
safety man work out a tough problem which might be presented to him.
8. He must be firm and aggressive when and where such action is neces-
sary-no sliding over the bad spots during an inspection or chatting with the
boss in the office without going out through the plant. He must be able and
ready to go right to the top plant executive, if necessary, to get proper atten-
tion to accident and disease prevention.
9. He should be able to assist employers in conducting safety meetings,
safety contests, educational campaigns, etc.
10. He should be able to assist the employer in securing observance by
employees of necessary and reasonable safety rules and safe practices.
WHAT SAFETY MEN SAY
In shaping up my discussion, I wrote some of our safety men
at several of our plants who have been on the job for many years.
Here is what one of them had to say in regard to his relationships
with the State safety inspector who visits his plant:
1. As a person outside the regular industrial organization, the State safety
inspector can bring a fresh, unbiased viewpoint to the industry and perhaps
bring to light some genuine needs for improvement.
2. By his experience in other factories, he can often point out some means
of guarding that has been developed by other concerns and which may solve
a problem in the factory in which he is making his inspection. Of course,
this applies only where no secrets of operation or process are concerned.
3. In New York State, the factory inspectors have access to accident reports,
and with this information they can point out hazards that have caused such
4. Mr. B, the State factory inspector for this district, has been making
inspections here for some 20 years or more. Our consultations with him
have been of considerable value. Usually after an inspection of the plant
we just sit down and talk things over. In this way we learn about some of
the new stunts that he has seen; these may be of an educational nature,
guarding of machinery, sanitation, fire prevention, or dust control.
5. Of necessity, the State factory inspector is conversant with State require-
ments. All new codes or rules are discussed with him and quite often he
can give an interpretation of just where these will apply.
6. The psychological effect of a State officer being in the plant often has
a good effect on the workers. To this end Mr. B. always interests himself
in hand tools and such equipment. He makes sure that the man knows that
he is looking at them and when he finds them in good order he compliments
the man on the way he keeps them. One can readily see that the effect of
this is good.
Another safety man commented very favorably on the service of
the State factory inspection department, but stated that a State
safety inspector had not been in his plant for so many years that
he had lost all track of how long it had been since the last visit.
This plant of 1,500 employees had been fortunate in establishing
a fine safety record. This raises the question, "Is it good adminis-
tration for the State agency to concentrate its efforts upon the
plants with the worst accident experience and pass up almost
entirely the plants having good safety records?" Is it not possible
that the safety inspectors could gain some definite information by
visiting some of these plants with good safety records which they
could use in other plants which have not obtained such good
WHAT MAY THE STATE EXPECT?
Having served as a Government official myself, I have viewed
these problems from both sides. We all agree that in the United
States compliance with law is not accomplished by military order
or by radio announcement. It is our practice in this country to
depend primarily on compliance rather than enforcement.
Furthermore, in respect to such laws as those which relate to
industrial accident and disease prevention, we expect two-way
communication between the State agency and the employers.
Accordingly, I am going to discuss briefly the following ques-
tion: What has the competent executive in charge of the State
agency responsible for industrial accident and disease prevention
the right to expect from the employer, from labor, and from the
public generally? I list the following:
1. He has the right to expect wholehearted cooperation in the proper
administration of the law and the regulations thereunder, in a sincere attempt
to achieve fundamental objectives of accident and disease prevention.
2. He has the right to expect support in honest, fair, and uniform enforce-
ment on all parties concerned.
3. He has the right to expect support in securing adequate appropriations
for proper administration of the law.
4. He has the right to expect insistence on the part of employers, labor and
the public, that appointments and retention in office in this field of Govern-
ment work be strictly on a merit basis and that appointees be neither "pro-
company" nor "proworker" and that politics be left out of the matter
5. He has the right to expect cooperation in drafting needed legislation
and regulations which are economically and mechanically feasible.
6. He has the right to expect cooperation in preparing and conducting
training courses for factory inspectors and otherwise upgrading the quality
of service of the agency and the staff personnel.
7. He has the right to expect cooperation in devising and developing new
safeguards and safe practices, in conducting safety conferences, contests, etc.
8. He has the right to expect courtesy and respect in return for both.
9. He has the right to expect honest records by employers and honest
reporting of accidents and disease, in return for fair treatment and honest
administration of the law.
In conclusion, I point out what seems to me one of the in-
escapable responsibilities of the State-that the Government
itself must set an example of safe practices and safeguarding on
all projects of the State, such as construction of buildings and
other public works, highway and bridge construction, operation
of State institutions, etc. Certainly, Dad had better not spank
Junior for fighting if Dad comes home with a black eye himself.
We all know the Government has received many black eyes
through inadequate attention to this problem in its own direct
However, I am very glad to state of my own knowledge that
both the State and Federal Governments are making a sincere,
and I believe successful, effort to improve their own safety records,
and it is up to all of us to assist in every way possible toward still
Recently I ran across this quotation "To give real service, you
must add something which cannot be bought or measured with
money, and that is sincerity and integrity."
U. S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE: 1940
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
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