History of Industrial Safety

Imagine The Working Condition during early days

Imagine working on the beam of a bridge only a few feet wide and more than 200 feet high. There is no harness to secure you and nothing to catch you if you fall; one slip means certain death. As you look around at your construction crew, you know statistically, some of you won’t survive to see the project’s completion. 
It sounds barbaric, but this was standard operating procedure just a few generations ago, before the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge. 

Golden Gate Bridge Construction

Golden Gate Bridge Construction

When construction of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge began in the 1930's, the industry had come to expect one death for every million dollars spent on a project. That was the norm, but chief project engineer Joseph Strauss wasn’t willing to tolerate it. He commissioned a rope-and-mesh safety net under the floor of the bridge during the construction of the roadway structure. That bridge saved the lives of 19 men, who were dubbed members of the “Halfway-to-Hell Club,” according to the Golden Gate Highway & Transportation District. Strauss also required workers to wear hard hats, safety lines and respirators during riveting to prevent them from inhaling lead-tainted fumes. These practices were considered revolutionary for their time, and workers who did not follow them could be fired. 

Eleven workers still lost their lives during the project—including 10 who died after a portion of scaffold fell through the safety net—but without the net and other strict requirements, that number would have been much higher.

As history shows us, a successful safety program starts with recognizing the status quo isn’t going far enough to protect workers. It involves documenting the problem, working with regulators to set appropriate standards and educating your employees so they understand how to keep themselves safe. 

History of Factory Legislation in India

The first time the public attention was drawn towards a report in 1873, ‘Administration of the Bombay Cotton Department wherein the writer Major Moore described the factory conditions in Bombay with reference to long working hours, conditions of women and children of six years working from sunrise to sunset with a small interval of half an hour and only two holidays in a month.

Based on this report the Secretary of State wrote to the Bombay Government in 1875 to appoint a Commission to determine whether legislation was necessary for that subject. As a result, the Commission was appointed by a majority of seven against two, not in favor of the legislation.

About this time Miss Carpenter of Bristol, founder of the National Indian Association, had visited India and made inquiries about the Indian factory conditions.

The exploitation of child labor and the unrestricted employment of women were among the worst features of earlier factories in India. Maj. Moore, Mr. Ballard, and Mr. Alexander Redgrave were’ some of the earliest to urge the necessity for factory legislation in India on the lines of the British Factories Act to check these evils.  Almost simultaneously, the Lancashire Cotton interests, apprehensive at the phenomenal growth of the Indian Cotton Industry, also started an agitation for achieving the same object, their aim being directed towards neutralizing the advantages the Indian capitalists had with regard to cheap labor.  Such extraneous considerations resulted in the merits of legislation being obscured and a counter agitation was, therefore, started by the Indian capitalists against any form of legislative enactment. A commission set up in 1875 by the Bombay Government at the instance of the Secretary of State recommended prohibition of employment of children under 8 years and a 12 hours day for adults.


  1. Really informative blog from the past about safety industry

    1. Thank you so much for your valuable feedback

  2. I’m going to read this. I’ll be sure to come back. thanks for sharing. and also This article gives the light in which we can observe the reality. this is very nice one and gives indepth information. thanks for this nice article... Six Sigma