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W. B. WILSON. Secretary


Summary of State and Federal Laws
Regulating the Employment of Women iii
Hazardous Occupations : 1919



Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Laws prohibiting employment of women in certain industries.
The employ ment of women in mines is prohibi ted by law in 17 of
the States- Alabam a, Arizona, Arkans as, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana ,
Maryland, Missouri, New York, Oklaho ma, Ohio, Pennsy lvania, Utah,
:Vashington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyomi ng. The law
in_ Alabam a, Colorado, and West Virgini a relates specifically to coal
Laws regulating the employment of women only.
Handling lead.-T he employ ment of women in handlin g " any dry
!ubstan ce or dry compou nd contain ing lead in any form in excess of
~perce nt" is prohibi ted by law in Pennsy lvania and New Jersey.
Using abrasiv es.-The employ ment of women is prohibi ted "in
operatin g or using any emery, tripoli, rough corundu m stone, carbo~undum, or any abrasiv e or emery polishin g or buffing wheel where
articles of the baser metals or of iridium are manufa ctured" in New
York State.
In Ohio women are not allowed to "opera te or assist in operati ng
einery wheels or belts of solid emery, leather, leather-covere d felt,
canvas, linen, paper, cotton, or wheels or belts rolled or coated with
einery corundu m, or cotton wheels used as buffs."
Oiling moving machin ery.-W omen are not permitt ed to oil or
clen.n moving machin ery in four States- Louisia na, Minnes ota, Missouri, and West Virginia.
Making cores .-New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have laws
~hich regulat e the employ ment of women fa core making . The New
"York law provide s that "no woman shall be employ ed or permitt ed
to Work in any brass, iron, or steel foundry at or in connect ion with
Jhe making of cores where the oven in which the cores are baked is
ocated in or operate d in the same room or space in which the cores
are made." In Pennsy lvania and Ohio no woman is allowed to handle
cores which have a temper ature of more than 110° F.
L ffting weight s.-In Ohio and Pennsy lvania a woman may not
handle cores when the combin ed weight of core, core box, and plate
~t which she is working exceeds 15 pounds . In Massac husetts, any
.xes, baskets , and other recepta cles which with their content s weigh
75 pounds or over and which are to be moved by female employees
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Tllg E;\IPLOY.M EXT OF wo1rn ~ l


s I


in any manufact uring or mechanic al c tablishmc nt must be provided
with pulleys, a tor , or ome other mechanic al device so that they
can h moved ea il . In cw ork worn n in the core rooms of
foun<lric. arc prohi bi tc<l from lifting more than 25 pound .
In addition to those provisions which actually prohibit women
from working und r certain condition or in certain indu tries, each
tatc has many law' ancl rulings which prescribe the conditions
under whi h worn n houlcl work, overing uch matter as the lifting
of weight , provi ion of cats, and proper provision for sanitation
and comfort.
La, s regulating the employment of all workers in hazardous in-

The u c of whit phosphoru in the manufact ure of matches is
prov nted in this country by the impo ition of a Federal tax of 2
cent per hundred on all match manufact ur d with thi material.
The importati on of mat ·h s made from whit ulphur is prohibited .
I uling for various hazardous indu. trie , affecting both the men
and women work rs, ar found in many tates. Industrial commi ion in six tu,te - Colorado, Montana, New York, Pennsylva nia,
Utah, and Wi 'COn.'in luwe the power to make reO'ulations for the
health and welfn,rc of worl-cr:s. 'l'he California , Or gon, and Wa hington commissio n. have power to make regulation s only for women
and minors, and the Kansas commi ion for women, minors, learners, and apprcnti ·cs. The Colorado commi ion hn, the power to
mak r gulations only to <'nforce e~-isting law .
[n addition to the ruling of the indu trial commi ion , which
arc too va t in number and minute in detail for quotation , the laws
of several Stn,tcs contain special regulation s for all workers, with
c rtain pecifi d dang rou or poi onou materials or in certain hazcw ,Jersey
ardou indu trio . Employee in Illinoi , Mi souri,
P nn ylvania, and Ohio arc requir d to provid for
belowino- in certain proco c which arc mentioned
1. Prop r worl ing clothing, which shall be kept in good condition.
2. R pir Lor , wher, C'mployee ure e po d to noxiou 01
p i nou du t .
3. Medical examinati on by a competen t physician at least once

a month.
ing room with eparat compartm ent in which workers may keep tr et clothe , and lavatoric with adequate
wa hinO' focilitic . Clean towels and soap.
5. "uitable provi ion for enabling employees to take their
meals out i<lc of the workroom wher poisonous substance s
or injuriou or no. ious fume , dusts, or gases are present.

4. Dr
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6. Sanitary drinking fountains.
7. Special ventilating and cleaning systems for carrymg off
injurious dusts and gases.
The processes for which these regulations are made vary slightly
in the different States. The laws in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and N cw
Jersey cover "every work or process in the manufacturing of white
lead, red lead, litharge, sugar of lead, arsenate of lead, lead chromate,
lead sulphate, lead nitrate or fluosilicate * * * in which the
workers are exposed to lead dusts, lead fumes, or lead solutions.''
New Jersey, however, also specifies "every work or process in the
manufacture of pottery, tiles, or porcelain enamel sanitary ware,
where employees are exposed to heat, dusts, lead, fumes, or lead
solutions." This is the only case in which the pottery industry is
specifically mentioned.
Missouri stipulates these conditions for those working in the "carrying on of any process, or manufacture or labor in which antimony,
arsenic, brass, copper, lead, mercury, phosphorus, zinc, their alloys
or salts or any other poisonous chemicals, minerals, acids, fumes,
vapors, gases, or other substances are generated or used, employed or
handled by the employees in harmful quantities or under harmful
conditions or come in contact with in a harmful way."
The Illinois law includes "any process of manufacture or labor in
which sugar of lead, white lead, lead chromate, litharge, red lead,
arsenate of lead, or Paris green are employed, used, or handled, or
the manufacture of brass or the smelting of lead or zinc."
Laws regarding compulsory reporting of industrial diseases.
Fifteen States have laws making it compulsory for physicians to
report some or all occupational diseases to either the State board of
health or the State labor department. In addition to these 15, in
California, Wisconsin, and Hawaii industrial diseases come under
the workmen's compensation act, which makes the reporting of the e
di eases compulsory. In 12 States-Connecticut, Massachusetts,
Michigan, J\finnesota, Maine, Maryland, cw Hampshire, New J ersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin-every physician
who attends a patient suffering from any or from certain specified
occupational diseases must report to either the State board of health
or the State labor department. In the other 3 States-Pennsylvania,
1:issouri, and Illinois- this reporting is only required of the physicians conducting the examination required by law in certain hazardous occupations.
Ten States among those 15 require that all occupational diseases
shall be reported, while Michigan 1 Minnesota, and New Jersey specify
only cases of poisoning from lead, phosphorus, arsenic, mercury, or
their compounds, or anthrax, or compressed-air illness. The New
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York law enumerates as being reportable these same diseases, and also
brass and wood alcohol poisoning. Wisconsin also enumerates the
same diseases, but omits anthrax. In 5 States- Connecticut, Massaelm etts, Michigan Minnesota, and New York- reports must be made
to the State labor department; in Pennsylvania and Ohio reports
must be made to both the State labor department and the State board
of health; in Wisconsin reports must be sent to the State board of
health and the bureau of vital statistics; and ih Maine, Maryland,
Missouri, New Hampshire, Now Jersey, Illinois, Rhode Island, reports arc made to the State board of health.
Workmen's compensation laws which include industrial diseases.
In only three cases- California, Hawaii, and Wisconsin- out of
the 38 States and 3 Tcnitorics which have workmen's compensation
laws does the law specifically include industrial diseases. In Massachusetts, however, although the law requires that the injury forwhich compensation is claimed must be caused by "accident," the
courts have decided that occupational disea es shall be included. In
Illinois a similar ruling has been made by the industrial commi sion.
In Michigan, after the industrial commission interpreted the law as
including occupationn,l diseases, the court ruled to the contrary.
The workmen's comp 'nsation act for the civilian employees of the
Federal Government authorize. compensation "for 'the disability
or death of an employee resulting from a personal injury sustained
while in the performance of this duty,' excluding cases of willful
mi conduct, etc. The commission administering the law took the
view that the term 'personal injury' as used in the act covers 'not
only accidents as ordinarily defined, but also any bodily injury or
di ea c duo to tho performan c of duties and cau ing incapacity for
work.' n 1 In J cw Mexico any employee in any sm Jting works who
becomes di ablcd and unfit for work because of lead poisoning must
b provided by his employer with medical attention and sustenance
<luring the period of his (lisability.
Need for definition and u 1derstanding of industrial hazards for women,
Although legislation on tho subject , hows that some attention
ha b n given to special hazards to which women are e~'posed in industry, it also shows that there has bPm liLtlo, if any, real attempt
to discover ,vhat arc tho spcci al hazards for women.
Expert observers, both in this country and abroad, l ave held that
women arc more su. eptible than men to the effects of lead. The
more serious Jirnger for women in occupations in which they arc
exposed to lead poisoning is clue to the effect of load on the generative organs. Tho c who have uffere<l. from 1 ad poisoning are
1 U. S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Dul. No. 243, Workmen's Compensation Leg·
islntion of tho United 8tat s and ForP ign Countries, 1917 and 1918.
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more likely to be sterile or to suffer miscarriages or to bear dead
children; or to lose their children as infants. Lead poisoning in men
has not been knovm to have any ill effects upon the offspring 1 but
for women the poison affects not only herself but her children in
the future 1 and these serious results occur more frequently if she
works in the lead industries after her marriage. Dr. Alice Hamilton 1
one of the foremost authorities in this country on the subject of
lead poisoning 1 has recommended that women should not be employed inLead smelters.- Tending and discharging Hunting-Heberlein pots,
tending and discharging hand-rabbled reverberatory furnaces, tapping blast furnaces, working on Scotch hearths or open hearths,
working in the flues and bag houses.
Lead refineries.- Doing furnace work or handling dross.
Manvfacturing white lead.- Stack setting in blue beds when old
buckles are used; stack stripping-" stripping the white beds;" drypan room; packing dry white lead; grinding white lead in oil; on
Carter process 1 except in packing lead nicil.
Painting trade.- Dry rubbing down of lead paint; mixing dry
lead qompounds with paint; using dirty drop cloths; chipping off
old lead paint.
In the manvfacture of storage batteries- Manvfacture of storage
batteries.- 1fixing paste and applying it to the plates.
Compounding rubber.- These recommendations were only made
after a careful study of all the processes in the various industries.
It is interesting and significant to note that even in face of the
special danger to women in the lead industry Dr. Hamilton has not
recommended the prohibition of the employment of women in the
entire industry, but rather that, except on certain processes so
dangerous as to make the safeguarding of the worker extremely
difficult, the industry should be made safe for both men and women.
And yet in face of the definite assurance that lead poisoning is particularly dangerous to women, only two States in the Union have
law prohibiting or regulating women's employment in industries
where they are in danger of lead poisoning. In fact 1 in most cases
the laws which prohibit their employment have little bearing on the
real hazards to which they are exposed. If a woman's hand may get
crushed while she oils moving machinery, so may a man's, and his
hands are as valuable as hers. If a man can be taught to oil that
moving mach.inery so that he will not be injured 1 a woman can learn
the same method; but if safety can not be assured, then the machine
hould be adequately safeguarded so that neither man nor woman
will run the risk of injury. Prohibiting the employment of women
on certain dusty processes does not solve the problem of any industrial disease in a communit y. Men also are liable to contract pul
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morrnry diseases from exposure to dusts . . Dusty processes and machines should be ventilated and hooded, so that men and women both
may work at them with impunity'. It is very possible that under the
guise of "protection" women may be shut out from occupations
which are really less harmful to them than much of the tedious heavy
work both in tho home and in the factory which has long been considered their special province. Safe standards of work for women
must come to bo safe standards for men also if women are to have an
equal chance .in industry. Only in cases where conditions are more
harmful to women than to men should their employment be prohibited. Except for the lead industry, so little information exists in
this country as to the special effect on women of the various industrial
poisons that it would seem essen Lial 1 in order to guarantee that the
women workers of the country be protected but not discriminated
against, to make extensive investigations before recommending the
exclusion of women from any industries or processes.
Laws making it obligatory to report industrial diseases such as
exist nlready in one form or another in 15 States arc the first step
in establishing a satisfactory policy r garding the employment of
women in hazardous industries. A further step will be the inGlusion
of industrial diseases under tho workmen's compensation law. The
operation of this law will stimulate management to make progress
in the engineering problems of safety and sanitation, and will insure
more effective health supervision while the facts disclosed will furnish information on which to base conclusions as to the greater
liability of women to industrial poisons, and as to the more serious
c.ff ects of such poisons.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis