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So We All Go Home Safe – Childhood Memories

- August 23, 2018 by Kurt van Hartogh (View all posts by Kurt)

Having grown up in a small steel town about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh, my school’s history classes always emphasized the industrial revolution, steel manufacturing and the dangers that came along with this industry during that time due to minimal safety enforcement. The vast amount of rivers running through the city and suburbs, made Pittsburgh’s location easily accessible for river transportation, making the “Steel City” a leader in the American industrial manufacturing. The city and surrounding towns produced a number of raw materials, but the steel and iron industry was by far what boosted Pittsburgh’s economy in the 19th century.

In the prime of the steel industry, the working conditions were extremely poor and lacked any sort of safety and health enforcement or any regulations. This lack of safety, lead to countless injuries and fatalities among steel mill workers. The mills alone, posed serious hazards with extremely hot working conditions with poor ventilation. Workers were also being exposed to high levels of fire, chemicals, liquid metal, vibration, material handling, elevated work, confined space, etc.

With these hazards present minimal safety efforts were in place, leaving employees exposed to fatal working conditions. The mills had improper tools, unsuitable emergency preparedness, improper fall protection, minimal personal protective equipment (PPE), no lock out tag out in place, no machine guarding, etc.

Safety and health has come a long way since those days. Setting rules, regulations and laws for employers to follow to ensure the wellness of all employees. The number of injuries and fatalities have dramatically decreased with the implementation of such laws and regulations.  I may not live near Pittsburgh now, but the safety lessons I learned about as a child are carried with me as I work with my ICW Group accounts to create a safer workplace for all.

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