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When OSHA sparked a movement: Living histories and lessons for today
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Prior to 1900, workplace safety and worker health were afforded little concern. Through the efforts of Alice Hamilton and many others, workplace safety and the field of industrial hygiene were integral to Progressive Era labor reform in the early 20th century. This tradition and the subsequent New Deal constitute the underpinnings of the modern era of workplace safety and health, linked most closely with passage of the Occupational and Safety Health Act in 1970. The OSH Act spurred development of the modern model of occupational safety and health regulation and practice. The field of workplace safety and health remains highly contested with key parties representing the interests of employers, labor unions, public health and medical professionals, and government regulators. The history of this modern era is being written and its recency provides access to professionals whose careers have paralleled this movement. This project uses interviews with a key number of these professionals and activists to identify themes relating to their experiences in the modern history of occupational safety and health. Current trends and debates in occupational safety and health and labor policy, including labor unions’ steep decline and the emphasis on behavioral over environmental and organizational explanations of workplace hazards, call into question whether we are experiencing a deviation from the OSHA model. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the APHA’s Occupational Safety and Health Section, these themes are explored with a perspective of analyzing the past to predict and shape the future of occupational safety and health.
Occupational health and safety
Describe the major historical movements of the field of occupational safety and health.
Discuss possible future directions for occupational safety and health movements.
Keyword(s): Occupational Health and Safety, Public Health Movements
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a graduate student conducting this qualitative research using oral history and interviews as part of my education under the guidance of Leslie Nickels, PhD, who used the same type of research for her dissertation on Alice Hamilton (a key figure in the history of occupational safety and health).
Any relevant financial relationships? No
I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines,
and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed
in my presentation.