Occupational Safety and Health Professional (OSHP) Day. Alice Hamilton made the American workplace less dangerous by exposing dangerous working conditions in early twentieth-century America.
Alice Hamilton helped make the American workplace less dangerous. Her investigations into industrial poisons, first for the state of Illinois and later for the U.S. Department of Labor, underscored the dangerous working conditions in early twentieth-century America. As a pioneer in the field of industrial toxicology, Hamilton became a leading expert in chemical health and safety.
Alice Hamilton made her greatest mark in the development of industrial toxicology. At Hull-House, Hamilton treated poor immigrants for diseases often resulting from working conditions. In 1910, Hamilton took part in a commission appointed by the governor of Illinois to study the extent of industrial sickness in the state, particularly the high mortality rates due to industrial poisoning in the lead and associated enamelware industries, rubber production, painting trades, and explosives and munitions. She served as managing director of the survey and made the study of lead industries her special focus.
Hamilton later was asked by Charles Neill, Commissioner of Labor in the U.S. Department of Commerce to undertake a similar survey covering all the states. She received little government backing and no salary, though the government agreed to buy her final report.
Visit National Historic Chemical Landmarks to read more about the development of occupational medicine.
Excerpted with permission, National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program