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Bulletin No. 136

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis






For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, Washington, D. C. •
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

• • - - •

• •



Price 5 cents



Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Letter of transmittaL ______________ _____ ___ ______ _________ _____ ___ __ __
Introduction __ ___ __________________________ _____ ,__________ _____ _____
Standards___________ ____ __ ___ _________ _____________________ ___ __
Working conditions_____ ____ __ ___________ __ _________ ______ _________ __ _
Factory planning and equipment______ ___ ____________ ____ ___ ______



Lighting_____ _______________ ____________ ______ _______________


Ventilation, heat, humidity, and clean air______________________
________ ____
and vibration______________________________
Stairways_____________________________ __ _________ __ _________
Fire protection____________________________________ ___________
Seating equipment---------------- - -------------------------Lifting or carrying heavy weights___ ____ __ _____ ______ ___ __ ___
Personal service facilities________ ____ ____________________ ___ ______
Drinking facilities ------------------ - -------------- ---- -----Washing facilities-- - --------- ------ ------ ------------------Toilet facilities ---------------------------------------------Dressing and locker rooms____ ___ __ ___ __ ___________ ___ ________
Rest rooms_______ ________________________ __________________ _
Lunch rooms______________________ _________ ____ ____ __ ________
Industrial hazards_ __ _________ __ ___ _____ ____________ _________________
Accidents__________________ ____ ______________________ _____ ____ ____
Disease________ __________ _______ ________________________________ _
Women's wages__________________ __ _______ ___________ _____ ___________
Standard wages____ _________________ ____ ________ _________________
Current wages_______________________ ____ _________________ _______
Cost of living__ ____ ___ ____________ _____ __ ___ ___ ___ ___ ____ __ __ __ __
Earnings in 17 States surveyed by Women's Bureau______ ___ ___ ____
wage --------------- -----------------------\Vorking time__________
___ ____---------____________________________
___ ______ __
Daily hours___ ___________________ ____ ___ ____ __ ____ ______ _________
Weekly hours_________________ ______ ___ ______ _________________ ___
Irregularities of piecework______________ _______ ___ ______ ___ _______
Night work______ _____ _______ ___ __ __________ __ ___ ___ ____ __ ______
Vacations-------------------·------------------------------------Sick leave with pay______________ ____ ____________________________
Protection of the worker in plant and at home____ ___ ___________ ___ ____
Physical examination______ _______________________________________
Placement of workers________________ __________ ___ _____ __________
Industrial home work___ ____________ __ _____ ______________________

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Washington, August 13, 1935.
MADAM: I have the honor to submit for publication a revision and
amplification of Women's Bureau Bulletin 18, Health Problems of
Women in Industry, for which there is a constant demand.
The original bulletin was a reprint of an article by Mary N.
Winslow, at that ti:rpe editor of the Bureau, in The Nation's Health
of May 1921. The present bulletin, prepared by Harriet A. Byrne,
assistant editor, adds much material to Miss Winslow's report and
summarizes accepted standards more modern and more general than
were then available.
Respectfully submitted.
S ecretary of Labor.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


In a message to Congress June 8, 1934, Pre.s ident Roosevelt stated
that the chief objective of the administration was "the security of
men, women, and children of the Nation." Shortly after this he
appointed a Committee on Economic Security, to study the problem
and formulate plans providing safeguards "against misfortunes
which cannot be wholly eliminated in this man-made world of ours."
This committee made its report to the President in January 1935.
In this report it stated that the primary aim of any · program of
economic security must be "the assurance of an adequate income to
each human being in childhood, youth middle age, or old agein sickness or in health. It must provide safeguards against all of
the hazards leading to destitution and dependency."
Prominent among the causes of destitution should be mentioned
sickness, because of (1) the loss of earning power and (2) the cost
of medical care. On an average, at all times. approximately 1 in 50
of all industrial workers are incapacitated for work by reason of
illness. Each year more than one-eighth of all workers suffer one
or more illnesses that disable them for a week. It is est imated by
the National Safety Council that in 1933, a year in which employment was known to be at a low ebb, somewhat over 1¼ million
industrial accidents occurred in the United States, 14,500 of them
resulting fatally and 55,000 leaving some permanent disability. The
economic loss resulting from such industrial injuries is estimated at
well over half a billion dollars.
No special program of health has been made public by the Committee on Economic Security, though a general measure for meeting
the health problems of families in low-income groups-that of a
Nation-wide preventive program-has been suggested, as well as a
health-insurance program. Some recommendations regarding accident prevention and compensation were made by the committee,
which will be discussed in this report.
In the early years of this century the importance of women in
industry became apparent. A.n investigation of the employment
conditions of woman and child wage earners in 1907-9 aroused
interested persons to the need of a Government bureau whose concern
should be the problems of the working woman. However, it was not
until 1918 that the Woman in Industry Service, which 2 years later
became the Women's Bureau, was established.

This bulletin is to replace No. 18, Health Problems of Women in Industry.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



"To formulate standards and policies which shall promote the
welfare of wage-earning women, improve their working conditions,
increase their efficiency, and advance their opportunities for profitable employment", were the duties placed upon the Women's Bureau
in the law creating it in the Department of Labor. To these ends
it was authorized '"to investigate and report to the said Department
upon all matters pertaining to the welfare of women in jndustry ", in
doing which the Bureau has collected and published much valuable
information on women workers, especially concerning their wages
and hours, working conditions, personal-service facilities, and
industrial accidents and disease.
Under the term "welfare", as interpreted in the law, the health
of women in industry is a most important factor. vV1thin recent
years it has been recognized that efforts to prevent disease are not
sufficient, the active promotion of health being a necessity. It is an
accepted fact that healthy, contented workers are an employer's best
asset. To accomplish this means more than considering merely the
health of the individual worker; it involves guidance in placing the
worker in the proper job and in assisting him in making any adjustments necessary to keep the job after it has been secured.
In a recent publication 2 of the United States Public Health Service
on industrial hygiene the following statements appear:
It is the feeling of public-health workers that the improvement of the general
hea lth status of the industrial worker is as much of a public-health problem as
the control of communicable diseases, or any other phase of preventive medicine.
As a result of the numerous studies * * * it is now established that
morbidity a nd mortality rates are higher for the general industrial population,
a nd that certain occupations are of first importance as factors in the causation
of excessive sickness and mortality rates.
A health department * * * is the only practical body equipped to conduct work of a preventive nature in industry.
Occupational diseases are in a large measure preventable, and the_degree of
prevention exercised by a community will be reflected in the general health
status of tha t community.

With the obj ective of the Administration, as mentioned at the
beginning of this introduction, and the preliminary plans for the
health of the Nation, as stated in the report of the Committee on
Economic Security, it seems fitting that cognizance be taken of conditions under which women throughout the country are working
and that a statement be made regarding the standards for their

Practically speaking, the entire program for the regulation of
hours, wages, and conditions of work for women in industry is
based on the power of the State to protect health. It is the recognition by the courts of the special significance to general welfare
of the health of women, combined with the more serious effect on
women than on men of long hours, low wages, and unhealthful working conditions, that has resulted in the upholding of laws that regulate conditions. With the legal sanction for regulation once given,
2 U. S. 'l'reasury Department.
Public Health Service. The Potential Problems of Inonstrial Hygiene in a 'l'ypical Industrial Area in the United States. Bul. 216, 1934, pp.
29, 81. and 38.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



legislation of one sort or another affecting conditions under which
women may be employed has been put on the statute books of every
State in the Union. These laws vary in the different States, of course,
ranging all the way from a careful regulation of hours and wages
and a very definite supervision and control of working conditions
in such States as Oregon, California, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts
to the simple requirement of seats :for workers in Florida, West
Virginia, and Iowa.
Though the theory justi:fyjng the power of the State to make these
regulations has been so generally accepted, standards have varied
to such an extent that no two States have the same regulations.
One ·o f the earliest tasks undertaken by the Woman in Industry
Service when it was organized was the formulation of definite standards :f;or the employment of women in industry. These have served
as a guide to many different groups working for the better protection
of wage-earning women.
The standards thus formulated cover conditions in only a general
way, but they are the :fundamentals that apply to all industries and
all occupations. Qualifications and elaborations must be instituted
at times to meet special cases and peculiar conditions, but the fundamental standards necessary to insure health and t fficiency remain
unaltered. Briefly stated, the standards for the employment of
women that constitute the creed of the Women's Bureau are these:
Time for recreation, self-development, leisure, by a workday of not more than
8 hours, including rest periods.
At least one and one-half days off in the week.
At least 30 minutes allowed for a meal.
A 10-minute rest period in the middle of each half day.
No night work.
An adequate wage, based on occupation an<l not on sex nor race, to cover
the cost of healthful and decent living and to allow for dependents.
Working conditions
Good lighting, ventilation, and beating.
Guarded machinery, handrails, safe condition of floors, devices drawing off
dust and fumes.
Prevention of overstrain and of overexposure to dust, fumes, poisons, and
extremes of temperature.
Mechanical devices for the lifting of heavy weights and other operations
abnormally fatiguing.
Fire prot~ction.
First-aid equipment.
A chair for each woman, built on posture lines and adjusted to both worker
and job; elimination of constant standing and constant sitting.
Pure and accessible drinking water, with individual cups or sanitary
Convenient washing facilities, with bot and cold water, soap, and individual
Dressing rooms, rest rooms, and lunch rooms.
Adequate toilet arrangements-one toilet to every 15 workers.
A personnel department, responsible for the selection, assignment, transfer,
or separation of workers and for the establishment of proper working conditions.
Women in supervisory positions and as employment executives where women
are employed.
11249 °-35--2
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Employees to share in the control of the conditions of employment by means
of chosen representatives, not excluding women.
Opportunity for women workers to choose occupations for which they are
best adapted as a means of insuring success in their work.
No prohibition of women's employment except in occupations proved by
scientific investigation to be more injurious to women than to men.
No work to be given out to be done at home.
Cooperation with Federal and State agencies dealing with labor and employment conditions.

In 6is group 0£ standards are found many recommendations that
apply fully as strongly to men as to women. For example, there is
no indication that bad ventilation in a workshop is a more serious
menace to women's health than to that of men, nor that it has any
distinctive effect on women. Insufficient ventilation will lower the
efficiency and the ability to resist disease 0£ both men and women, and
it should be recognized as a problem for all employees in all industries under all conditions.
The prevention of glare by properly placing and shading lights is
another working condition that is not particularly a woman's problem but instead is a problem for all in industry.
In fact, very few if any of these recommended standards can be
said to apply only to women, and the Women's Bureau does not
advocate that they should be considered as applying only to women.
The important thing about them is that they apply especially to
women. For all conditions in industry bear particularly heavily
on women, and therefore good working conditions, hours, and wages
have a more important relation to their health. Long hours in the
factory are not so serious for the man, who is through work when he
leaves his job at night, as they are for the woman, who in many
cases has several hours' housework to do after she gets home. The
married woman in industry who is forced to work because of economic necessity brought about by her husband's death, incapacity,
or inability to earn an adequate wage for hi1:1sel£ and his family,
usually must take whatever job she can get, without too much question 0£ wages or hours. But she is the one worker in all the group
who most needs the protection of the law, for the care of her
children and household will take many hours and much strength,
and her health will suffer if hours of work are not limited.

Public interest in making the place of work safe was given great
stimulus by the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City
in 1911. After this disaster, in which almost 150 employees, chiefly
young women, lost their lives, public opinion was aroused and investigations as to fire hazards and the prevention of fires by inspection
and enforcement of preventives were initiated. A.s a follow-up of
this interest in fire hazards attention was drawn to other hazards of
industry. These have been overcome in varying degrees by establishing safeguards against occupational disease, industrial poisoning,
overcrowding, and unguarded machinery.
Such protection agamst fire and certain industrial hazards is essential to the health of the employees, but in addition there should
be guaranteed to the workers high standards 0£ working conditions,
which so affect them as individuals. Though industry itself and
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



others interested in security, both economic and industrial, have accomplished much in the way of guaranteeing health to workers,
much remains to be done.

Of great importance in planning and equipping any industrial
plant are the facilities for lighting. Adequate and proper lighting
in work places is advantageous to both worker and employer. Daylight is the most desirable form of illumination and should be made
use of whenever possible. Modern factories have availed themselves
of daylight by building their factories in broad open spaces and
by converting a large part of the wall area into windows. In connection with this, it should be mentioned that for industrial plants
"poor lighting usually results if the ratio · between floor and window area is greater than 6 to 1. In most modern daylight factories
the ratio is between 5 to 1 and 3 to 1." 3
As beneficial as daylight is, it may be glaring. Provision should
be made to minimize this c9ndition by using certain types of window glass, or window shades properly adjusted to meet the need
of the workers.
Artificial lighting is necessary in most factories, electricity being
almost universally used. In many plants, especially the modern
ones, electric illumination is well planned and gives adequate light
to all workers. However, an unshaded electric bulb with no reflector, placed with no regard to the work to be done, the height of
the ceiling, color of the walls, or distance from the work place, frequently is the only light provided. The results of such lighting
systems show themselves in reduced production, poor workmanship,
accidents, and disease.
Whether the illumination be natural or artificial, if it is of the
right kind it has the following beneficial effects : Reduction of accidents; greater accuracy in workmanship, resulting in improved
quality of goods; increased production; less eyestrain; greater contentment of workers; greater cleanliness; more order and neatness
in the plant; supervision 0£ employees made easier.
In the bulletin of the Women's Bureau on lighting, the sugges.
tions following are made :
To employers:
Decide that adequate light with protection from glare is essential for your
plants and then secure it. The following suggestions may help you to do so:
1. Lighting is a technical problem. Consult a lighting expert in your community if possible. If not, ask for aid from your State department of labor.
2. Determine whether your plant illumination meets the standards of the
American Standard Code of Lighting Factories, Mills, and Other Work Places.
A copy may be secured from the American Standards Association and the
Illuminating Engineering Society, both at 29 West Thirty-ninth Street, New
York, N. Y., for 20 cents, or from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, United States
Department of Labor, Bulletin No. 556.
• National Safety Council. Indu strial Shop Lighting. Safe Practices Pamphlet No. 22.
'U. S. Department of Labor. Women's Bureau. State Requirements for Industrial
Lighting. Bul. 94, 1932, p. viii.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



3. A foot-candle meter to measure the illumination level should be used at
frequent intervals. Its use is a check on maintenance as well as on installation.
Eyes adjust themselves to almost any light; visual estimates can not satisfactorily take the place of actual measurements.
4. Expert information and aid on lighting problems for both natural a nd
artificial light can be secured from the following sources:
The Illuminating Engineering Society, 29 West Thirty-ninth Street, New
York, N. Y.; General Electric Lighting Institute, at Nela Park, Cleveland, Ohio;
Commercial Engineering Department, Westinghouse Lamp Co., Bloomfield,
N. J.; New York Lighting Institute, Grand Central Palace, New York, N. Y.;
Chicago Lighting Institute, 20 North Wacker Drive, Chicago, Ill.; the lighting
service departments of many local light and power companies or electrical
associations; the National Safety Council, Civic Opera Building, 20 North
Wacker Drive, Chicago, Ill.
Bulletins on lighting problems for particular industries and the advice of
lighting experts can be secured from these sources without charge. Some State
departments of labor have exhibits of lighting equipment.
5. Use your lighting facilities wisely. Some one person who bas been given
instruction on lighting problems sh ould be responsible for turning on the lights,
adjusting window and lamp shades, watching the lighting in aisles, hallways,
etc. Work places should be arranged to secure the most effective u se of natural
6. After installing an adequate lighting system, plan to secure efficient maintenance. Cleaning windows, cleaning and repainting walls and ceilings, and
replacing bulbs a nd broken r eflectors are important phases of careful maintenance. This responsibility should be given to some person or persons in your
To employees:
Your eyes are a valuable asset-protect them.
1. If the light on your work sPems inadequate, r equest that it be adjusted.
2. If a light hurts your eyes, some condition of glare may exist; ask that it
be corrected. It is ba d to sit facing a glaring window. Light can be too bright
as well a s too dim.
3. The lighting facts given in this bulletin may h elp you.
To State departments of labor:
Proper illumination is necessary for health and safety. There are sta ndards
for good lighting that have been tested by experience-guessing is no longer
1. Several States have found lighting codes helpful guides and st andards.
2. The foot-candle meter is used by some State departments of labor to
measure the lighting level, usually in questionable cases.
3. While the entire field of lighting is highly technical and r equires the
experience of experts (some State departments of labor employ lighting experts),
the basic requirements of good lighting, and the principles upon which these
are based, are not difficult to understand. Inspect ors with some informa tion
and training on this problem can improve lighting in places of employment.

Ventilation, heat, humidity, and clean air
Almost as important as lighting in making the best possible work
place is the conditioning of the air. Ventilation should be adequate,
heat sufficient but not excessive, humidity reduced, and air constantly moving, free from harmful gases or foreign particles. Rooms
that are too cold, too hot, too humid, too dusty, or filled with stagnant nonmoving air are injurious to health. E xcessive humidity,
heat, and stagnant air reduce not alone the worker's vitality but her
efficiency as well.
Two methods of ventilation are used generally by industry: (1)
natural, secured by means of windows and other openings, and (2)
mechanical systems, installed by technical engineers. Where windows are relied on it is well to open them at regular intervals, two
or three times during the working period and at lunch time, to change
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



the air. A temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit with humidity of
50 percent is said to b€ the most desirable for a workroom from the
standpoint of comfort and efficiency o:f the workers.
In cases where it is necessary to install some method of mechanical
ventilation two systems are commonly in use, one in which, by a
vacuum system, the air is drawn out of the room, and the other a
propulsion system where the air is driven in. Wherever necessary to
install such systems, it is essential to secure the services of a technical expert, and to be guided by his instructions in their operation.
Where heat or humidity is excessive, exhaust systems should be
provided, as they should also where the air contains poisonous
gases or substances. Individual means of protection, such as respirators, should be used by workers exposed to harmful substances in
the air about them.
Cleanliness and order in the workroom have a beneficial effect on
the health, efficiency, and contentment of the workers. They have
the same effect as that produced on members of a family by good
housekeeping in the home.
The necessity of :frequent, thorough cleaning varies with the type
of plant and the work pursued. In some plants daily cleaning of
the whole place is absolutely necessary. Various cleaning methods
are used-vacuum systems, sweeping, and scrubbing. Any method
that scatters dust while employees are at work or during nonworking
hours is to be discouraged. When the cleaning of floors is accomplished with a minimum of dust, labor is saved, as the equipment
requires less cleaning.
Special attention should be given to removing dirt :from windows
and lighting facilities, since the amount of work accomplished is
reduced where lighting is less efficient.
Noise and vibration
The problems of unnecessary noise and excessive vibration have not
been given so much attention by .e xperts as have those of lighting
and ventilation. They are problems that should be thoroughly investigated by architects and technical experts in making plans for
building and by engineers in designing machinery. One writer has
stated that noise is often a sign of "wasted energy, of poor design,
or of hurried ignorance."
Excessive noise and vibration are injurious to the health of individual workers as well as a menace to the neighborhood in which the
plant is situated. The unavoidable effects of noise on the nervous
system have long been recognized, and impairment o:f the auditory
r1erve has been known to result. Production may be reduced as much
by weariness :from excessive noise as it is by fatigue caused bv muscular strain. Studies have shown that de.fimte increases in the output
of typists resulted when noise was reduced. Since this has been
demonstrated, it certainly would seem that increased efficiency in
other lines of work would come with a decrease in the noise produced.
With improved ventilating and lighting systems, some adequate
provision should be made to do away with unnecessary noise and
vibration. Noise-absorbent floors and ceilings and sound-proof walls
should be included in specifications for all modern plants.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Stairways should be wide enough to allow easy passing and the
steps should be so constructed that walking is made easy. Wherever
possible, elevators should be provided to decrease the amount of
c1imbing required, especially when plants are sufficiently high to
warrant installing them. Stairways and passages should always be
dean and well lighted. Many injuries are caused by falls on slippery
floors, on poorly lighted stairways, or in passageways. Stairways
should be equipped with a separate system of lights so that any interference with the lighting system in the factory in a case of emergency
will not affect the lightmg of stairs and passageways. ·

Fire protection


As was mentioned in the introduction, the tragedy of a factory
fire in New York City, nearly a quarter of a century ago, aroused
public opinion to the need for protection against fire and other
hazards incident to employment. All factories should be adequately
:protected against fire and equipped with fire extinguishers conveniently placed. Besides the stairways, previously described, special
exits, well marked and known to be usable if and when needed, should
be provided for emergencies. Fire escapes should be available on
buildings of sufficient height to justify their installation.

Seating equipment
One of the health problems to which attention was given early
was that of comfortable and hygienic seating and correct posture at
work. In regard to this point the Women's Bureau has recommended
the following :
Continuous standing and continuous sitting are both injurious.. A chair
should be provided for every woman and its use encouraged. It ls possible
and desirable to adjust the height of the chair in relation to the height of
machine or work table so that the worker may with equal convenience and
efficiency stand or sit at her work.
Seats should have backs. If the chairs are high, foot rests should be provided. It is generally understood that a good work chair must provide support for the back, a seat shaped to the body, and foot support ( either the
floor or a foot rest), and that the height and back must be adjustable. The
measurements vary according to the individual and the type of operation to
be performed.

The necessity for providing workers with chairs that will support
the body so that the best working position can be maintained with
the expenditure of a minimum of energy is becoming more generally
recognized with the increasing realization of the harmful effects of
Practically all the States, the District of Columbia, and the Territories of Puerto Rico and the Philippine Islands have laws that
require some kind of seating accommodations for women workers.
In fact, only one State-Mississippi-is without any law of this
kind. Florida's law includes both male and female employees. In
many of the States the laws apply to all or practically all occupations or industries, in a number to manufacturing and mercantile
establishments, and in a few-Alabama, Maryland, North Dakota,
and South Carolina-only to mercantile occupations.
Most of the States specify that " suitable " seats shall be provided,
some designate "chairs, stools, or other contrivances", a few pro-
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vide that the seats may be permanent fixtures so adjusted as not to
obstruct the work. One State, however-Kentucky--,-says that seats
that fold are not a compliance with the law. Regulations in four
States-Kansas, Minnesota, New York, and Ohio-specify seats with
backs; California, Kansas, and Washington require foot rests, the
first and last named stipulating individually adjustable foot rests;
and the same two States-California and Washington-require adjustable seats at work tables or machines to permit the position of
the worker relative to her work to be substantially the same whether
she is seated or standing.
Many of the laws do not specify the number of seats to be provided, a few designate a " reasonable " or " sufficient " number, others
require seats for all female employees or, in the case of standing.
jobs, 1 seat for every 2 or 3 workers.
The laws vary little as to the extent to which the seats may be
used. By far the majority of the laws provide that employees be
permitted to sit when not actively engaged in their duties or when
sitting does not interfere with the proper discharge of duties. Others
specify that the seats may be used as may be necessary, or to such
extent as may be reasonable, or necessary, for the preservation of

Lifting or carrying heavy weights
There are so many ways in which a weight may be lifted-up
or down, continuously or occasionally, by pushing or pulling; and
the way of doing it-whether with the arms or back, with a sudden
effort that may wrench or strain, or with a careful coordination of
all the muscles that can be brought into play-may vary so with
each individual, that the standard weight that can be lifted safely is
difficult to arrive at. Notwithstanding this fact, some States have
made laws regulating the employment of women with regard to
lifting heavy weights.
In California, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington,
women are not allowed to perform tasks that involve the lifting
or carrying of heavy weights. In California, . boxes, baskets, or
other receptacles weighing with their contents 50 pounds or more
must be equipped with pulleys, casters, or other contrivances so that
they may be easily moved. This regulation applies to mills, workshops, restaurants, packing, canning, or mercantile establishments,
or any other establishments employing women. Massachusetts has
a law similarly worded that designates 75 pounds as the maximum
weight. This law applies to manufacturing or mechanical establishments. The law in California also provides specifically against
the carrying of any box, tray, or other receptacle weighing with
its contents 10 pounds or over up or down any stairway or series
of stairways that rises more than 5 feet from the base. Another
California regulation applies to any occupation, trade, or industry,
and specifies 25 pounds as the maximum weight to be lifted or
In Washington, women in manufacturing and mercantile establishments are not allowed to lift or carry "an excessive burden." In
Pennsylvania, the industrial board has ruled that women shall not
be required or allowed to lift heavy weights in explosive plants
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and that women working at permitted welding and cutting operations shall not be required or allowed to lift any material weighing
more than 15 pounds. Ohio prohibits employment requiring the
frequent or repeated lifting of weights in excess of 25 pounds.
Regulations regarding the work of women in core rooms have been
set up by five States-Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio,
and Pennsylvania. Minnesota prohibits women from placing cores
in ovens or taking them out. Minnesota and New York prohibit the
making or handlmg of cores, the weight of which, including core
box and plate, exceeds 25 pounds; and a similar restriction in Pennsylvania regarding the making or handling of cores specifies 15
pounds as the maximum weight. Massachusetts forbids the lifting
of any core or cores upon one plate with total cubical contents of
more than 1 cubic foot, or total weight of more than 25 pounds,
unless assisted by mechanical appliances that limit to 25 pounds the
physical effort involved. Massachusetts also requires that no woman
shall work on any core with total cubical contents exceeding 2 ·cubic
feet, or with total weight, including plate and core box or boxes, exceeding 60 pounds. Ohio provides that women employed in core
rooms shall not lift any object weighing more than 25 pounds unless
mechanical means are used that limit the physical effort to 25 pounds.

Drinking facilities
The subject of pure drinking water has been so well studied in
connection with community needs that there is public sentiment
against the use of the common cup and in favor of the sanitary
drinking fountain or the individual cup. However, the majority
of the State laws and regulations on the matter of drinking facilities
do little more than prohibit the use of the common cup.
Comparatively few persons are aware of the dangers that exist in
the serving of water by the ordinary drinking :fountain. Tests of
the sanitation of drinking :fountains show that all types of verticaljet :fountains are easily contaminated and retain disease germs for
some time, and that many angle-jet fountains may be contaminated
by improper use. To avoid this, the flow of water in the :fountain
should be at an angle, so that it cannot fall back onto the orifice,
and it should be equipped with an adequate guard to prevent face
or hands coming in contact with the opening. Employers who would
not offer their employees a common drinking cup will supply a vertical-jet fountain without realizing that it is a drinking :facility with
the same dangers as a common cup. Until recently any person who,
recognizing this danger, has tried to buy a sanitary :fountain has
faced the problem of making a selection from the many types manufactured without satisfactory information. The Women's Bureau
has met this situation and the resulting problems in its investigations of establishments and its interviews with employers. In an
effort to bridge these difficulties the Bureau published a bulletin on
sanitary drinking facilities: First, to call attention to the dangers
to health that exist in insanitary drinking :facilities, and second, to
help employers to select fountains of sanitary design by making
available to them the best standards that have been :formulated.
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The American Public Health Association's sta;ndards for the design
and construction o:f drinking fountains, listing the :features that are
essential for their sanitation, are included in the following:
Source of water.-Should be absolutely pure. Consult local health department.
Water not suitable for drinking should be so marked. Should not be in containers except where local supply is impure and bottled water is used.
Sanitary service.-Either bubbling fountains meeting the following standards•
or individual paper cups furnished free by employer.
1. Fountain shall be of impervious material, as vitreous china, porcelain,
enameled cast iron, other metals, or stoneware.
2. Jet shall issue from nozzle of nonoxidizing, impervious material set at an
angle from the vertical. Nozzle and every opening in pipe or conductor leading to nozzle shall be above edge of bowl, so that . nozzle or opening will not be
flooded if drain from bowl becomes clogged.
Note.-It is understood that the angle be such that the water can neither
fall back nor be forced back onto the point of discharge. The Women's Bureau
desires to make this very emphatic.
3. Nozzle shall be protected by nonoxidizing guards to prevent mouth ·or nose
of drinker from coming in contact with nozzle.
' 4. Jet of ·water shall not touch guard.
5. Bowl of fountain shall be free from corners difficult to clean or collecting
6. Bowl shall be so proportioned as to prevent unnecessary splashing.
7. Drain from fountain shall not have direct physical connection to waste
pipe unless trapped.
8. Water-supply pipe shall have adjustable valve fitted with loose key or
automatic valve permitting regulation of rate of flow of water to fountain
so that valve manipulated by drinker will merely turn water on and off.
9. Height at drinking level shall be convenient to most persons using fountain.
Step-like elevations may be provided for children.
10. Waste opening and pipe shall be large enough to carry off water promptly.
Opening shall have strainer.
Proper use.-Hands, mouth, or face should not touch any part of faucet,
bubbler head, or guards of fountains. Individual paper cups should be protected from dirt, supply should be adequate, and means of disposal provided.
Location.-Should be convenient, well lighted, clean.
Temperature.-Water should be cool but not iced. If ice is used for cooling,
it should not come in direct contact with the water.
Maintenance.-Facilities should have frequent cleaning and disinfecting; also
repair and adjustment as necessary.

Washing facilities
Adequate facilities :for washing, in the :form o:f stationary bowls
or troughs equipped with running hot and cold water, soap, and individual towels, paper or cloth, should be provided. The number of
bowls required varies with the type o:f work pursued, though .some
sanitary codes require that there be 1 for every 15 workers. Where
conditions demand frequent washing of the hands, even more bowls
should be available for use. Employees should be encouraged to
wash their hands at least before eating, after using toilet :facilities,
and before leaving the plant to return home.
1 From Women's Bureau Bulletin 87, Sanitary Drinking Facilities, with special reference
to drinking fountains. 1931.
• Summarized from Essential Features in the Design of Sanitary Drinking Fountains
final report of the joint committee on plumbing of the public health engineering section of
the American Public Health Association and the Conference of State Sanitary Engineers,
October 1930. Ur- S. Public Health Service, Public Health Reports, vol. 46, No. 4, Jan. 23,
1931, pp. 170-171.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Toilet facilities
As the Women's Bureau has published a bulletin on toilet facilities, excerpts from that publicat10n may be given here. 7
There are certain principles commonly accepted as essential to the establishment of decent and hygienic conditions that should be taken into consideration
in drawing up any law or regulation pertaining to the installation of toilet
facilities. These principles already are the basis of numerous State laws and
regulations and of the standards set by private corporations and establishments,
but a number of States have failed to set up standards adequate for the needs
of workers.

First of all it is essential, in order to prevent crowding and delay, that an
adequate number of toilets 1n relation to the number of workers should be
provided. The importance of this hardly needs to be argued and should be
easy to. accept. Failure to make such provision not only affects the comfort
of workers but may have a direct bearing on their health and efficiency.
Employers should have the importance impressed upon them of the necessity,
for a sufficient number of toilets for all the workmen. * * * Fatigue is
often dependent upon the absorption of toxins from the intestinal tract, and
toxins are generated by retained accretions. 8
In connection with adequacy of equipment, it is important to consider convenience of location, for adequacy is greatly affected by this. Toilets should be
located as near as possible to the work place of those who use them, though
it is always desirable to make the entrance inconspicuous from the workroom.
Standards of adequacy usually are expressed in the form of a required ratio
of toilet seats to persons employed. • * • First-hand information in regard
to the general condition in establishments has obligated the Women's Bureau
to recommend the ratio of 1 seat to every 15 women employed, regardless of
size of establishment.

Almost as essential as adequate equipment is privacy, not only for each sex
but for each individual. To insure such privacy it is necessary first of all to
provide separate toilets for men and women. It is desirable that the two be
remote from one another, though this is not always practicable. If toilet rooms
for the two sexes adjoin one another, the separating wall should be of solid
construction. Also, in cases where toilet-room entrances adjoin, employees generally prefer having them separated by a T-shaped .or L-shaped screen. Moreover, even when the entrances do not closely adjoin they should be protected in
some way so that the interior of the rooms cannot be seen when the doors are
For the sake of privacy as well as to prevent contamination of the air in
the workroom, the walls of all toilet rooms should extend to the ceiling or
the rooms should be independently celled over. This regulation is necessary
because of the tendency to install toilets in corners of workrooms with only
dwarf partitions separating the two.

Walls and floors
In the interest; of sanitation, it is important that walls and floors of toilet
rooms be of material that is as nearly nonabsorbent as possible. Wooden
floors absorb moisture and their use generally is discouraged ; nor is Portland
cement nonabsorbent unless treated with a hardening process. Some States
advise the use of such materials as marble, tile, or glazed brick in both walls
and floors but permit wooden walls and ceilings if these are painted with
1 U. S. Department of Labor.
Women's Bureau. The Installation and Maintenance of
Toilet Facilities in Places of Employment. Bul. 99, 1933, pp. 4-11.
8 Darlington, Thomas.
Health and Hygiene in Industry. International Cllnlcs, vol 11.
Thirty-fourth Serles, June 1924.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



several coats of light-colored, nonabsorbent paint. Floors may be made of
asphalt, concrete, tile or Portland cement, if treated with a hardening process
to make them more nearly impervious to moisture.
With the great improvements that have been made in sanitary equipment in
recent years, it has been found possible to produce toilet fixtures that combine
a number of features that make for sanitation-material that under a very
exacting test has been found to be relatively nonabsorbent, from which toilet
bowls can be cast; flushing devices that remove all particles quickly and
thoroughly; seats constructed to prevent all unnecessary contact; and methods
of ventilation through the fixture itself helping to prevent the escape of odors
into the room. Certain standards regarding some of these points are included
in the minimum requirements for plumbing recommended by the Bureau of
Standards of the United States Department of Commerce, though most of the
recommendations have to do with the way in which fixtures and pipes are
installed. Certainly it should be possible for all establishments to have fixtures
of the type recommended by this Government agency, since they are being
manufactured by numerous firms.
For proper ventilation, a certain amount of window space opening directly
to the outside air is considered desirable, though artificial ventilation may be
adequate, and generally is permitted if certain specifications are followed.
Where direct outside ventilation is required and details are specified, the
minimum window space or skylight area considered essential for a toilet
room with one seat varies from 4 to 6 square feet, and for each additional
toilet seat an additional square foot of window space usually is required.
Windows and skylights usually must be capable of being opened to one-half
their area.
Satisfactory lighting is important to the comfort of workers and the cleanliness of the room is greatly affected by it. Though natural light always should
be arranged for, it is not sufficient unless all parts of the room and compartments are easily visible at all times, which is hardly possible without some
form of artificial light.
The responsibility for the cleaning of toilet rooms should be delegated to
special employees, and the cleaning should take place at regular and frequent
intervals. Hot water and soap should be used. Frequent use of disinfectants
in addition to soap is conducive to a sanitary condition, but disinfectants alone
should not be relied upon.

Dressing and locker rooms
Provision should be made for the care of workers' clothes. Lockers
should be supplied wherever possible, and if not lockers, clothes
hooks with hangers so placed as to give ample space for street garments. Where special work .clothing is needed, a dressing room
should be furnished to afford privacy 1n changing to and from street
clothes. Such a room should be well lighted, ventilatedt and cleaned,
and neatness and order on the part of employees should be required.

Rest rooms


Rest rooms vary greatly with the type of establishment. As a
minimum, in every plant some provision should be made for a
place where an ill person may lie down, and, better still, cots or beds
sho?ld be furnished s~ tha! P.8rsons feeling the need of rest_ may
avail themselves of this pnv1lege. Rest rooms properly eqmpped
should provide easy chairs as well as couches for the use of workers.
If there is no room specially equipped for emergency illnesses, a firstaid kit should be installed in the rest room.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Lunch rooms
As good health is dependent to a large extent on the kind of food
eaten, industrial managers are constantly becoming more consci~us
of the food needs of their workers. Not only does good food nourish
the body, but the changed environment of the lunchroom has a
beneficial effect on the worker.
The type of accommodation varies with the size of plant and with
the distance from the factory to the workers' homes. Many plants
have food prepared and sold in cafeterias or lunchrooms or at
lunch counters, while others provide only a room in which the
workers may eat the lunches they bring from home, in some cases
preparing a hot drink for themselves. From experience it is considered that cafeteria service is best suited to the worker, since by
that system he may choose with reason food to his personal liking
and pocketbook. Food served should be varied, should offer a
balanced diet, and should be low in cost. ·w here good food well
cooked is available to the worker at a nonprofit price, the results
should be a healthy group of workers and as a result of this an
optimum production for the employer.

The following recommendations made by the Committee on Economic Security were formulated in an endeavor to meet more adequately the hazards of industrial accidents:
(1) The Department of Labor should further extend its services in promoting
uniformity and raising the standards of both the safety laws and accidentcompensation laws of the several Sta tes and their administration.
(2) The four O States which do not now have accident-compensation laws are
urged to enact such laws and the passage of accident-compensation acts for
specified workers is recommended.

The Women's Bureau is publishing a series of reports on industrial injuries to women. The first gave the data available regarding
such injuries from 1920 to 1927, the second was for the years 1928
and 1929, and the latest reports injuries to women during 1930 and
1931. Even in the last named, figures by sex were available in only
16 of the 48 States. Though accidents are relatively fewer to women
than to men, the number of women injured is very large. In New
York in 1931, for example, close to 9.,400 women were compensated
for accidents. For women in the 5 States that gave reports by industrial group, from not quite one-half to more than one-half of
the injuries were in the manufacturing group; in 2 of the 3 States
reporting the specific industry the la.r gest number were in food
Many injuries are the result of falls. In 4 States in which causes
of accidents to women over a 2·- year period were studied, at least onefifth were due to falls. And falls result in longer periods of disability than do other types of accidents to women.
A detailed study by the Women's Bureau of the reports of more
than 3,000 accidents to women in three States showed that over twothirds had affected the upper extremities. Among the machines

This number has since become two.- Editor.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



that injured women's fingers 2 hands, and arms were punch presses
in metal factories and machme shops, power sewing and knitting
machines, and cutting machines, of many types. Girls and women
were found to have been injured by taking lumber from a saw, using
an automatic cigar machine, cutting leather in a heel factory, shaving
soap in a soap and perfume factory, operating a flat-work ironer in
a laundry, packing food in bottles, carrying or lifting heavy weights,
and in many other ways. It is possible to guard most of these machines so that fingers or other members cannot be maimed, and proprietors are coming to realize that it is greatly to the interest of
mdustry and society that such accidents shall not occur.
Though money compensation for accidents is now given in most
of the States, in many cases it is only a very slight reimbursement
for the injury suffered. Far better than money compensation would
be the assurance that every known precaution to prevent accidents
had been taken.

Where factory conditions are good, there, still exists the possibility
of disease in the manufacturing processes. In many instances the
materials used are harmful in themselves, and in other cases the
process generates the disease-producing substance. There is constant progress in the elimination of harmful materials, but at the
• same time new chemical compounds for use in industry appear on the
market. Eternal vigilance is necessary where substances known to
be poisonous are used, and employers must be on the alert to recognize danger in unfamiliar substances. The harmful effects of new
materials may not be apparent for years, and the tracing of illness
to the real cause is difficult.
Women are affected by certain industrial poisons more seriously
than men are. Further, they are exposed to an increasing number
of hazards by reason of the widespread use of compounds in their
Among the hazards in manufacturing, dust occupies a place o-f
increasing importance. Wherever the body is exposed dust settles,
and it enters the mouth and nose and reaches the lungs. Persons
employed in occupations generating dust are likely to be affected with
pulmonary or bronchial troubles. Tuberculosis figures show death
rates for workers in certain dusty trades to be far above the average.
According to a recent publication of the United States Bureau
of Labor Statistics,1° lead poisoning is a distinct hazard in approximately 150 occupations, including several groups with large numbers
of women, such as pottery workers, printers, and enamelers.
Authorities hold that women not only succumb to lead more quickly
than men do, but suffer more severely from its effects.11 Lead poisoning is especially dangerous to women during child bearing; it is
likely to result in sterility, miscarriage, or stillbirth.
A few years ago the Women's Bureau made a study of women
doing vitreous enameling, chiefly in the stove industry, where spray10 U. S. Bureau of Labor StntlstirR.
Occupation Hazards and Diagnostic Signs, by Louis
Dublin and Robert J. Vane. Bul. 582, 1933, p. 39.
u Hamilton, Alice. Industrial Poisons in the United States. New York, 1925, p. 8.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



ing and brushing are the principal occupations. The women were
exposed to lead poisoning, both fumes and minute particles, in many
of the plants, and of those interviewed whose occupation was spraying th_e enamel about 14 percent had five or more symptoms of
In a later publication 12 Dr. Hamilton states that the fact "that
lead poisoning is brought about far more rapidly and intensely by
the inspiration of lead-laden air than by the ingestion of lead, is of
the greatest practical importance. There can be no intelligent control of the lead hazard in industry unless it is based on the principle
of keeping the air clean from dust and fumes." This may be accomplished by adequate ventilating facilities and by exhausts to carry
away dust and fumes. Individual protection in the way of respirators, helmets, and other clothing will help to prevent the absorption
of lead.
Another harmful poison to which many women are exposed is
benzol, used to a great extent in such important industries as the
manufacture of rubber tires and shoes, the leather and the shoe
industry, and a number of others. During a recent survey of the
shoe industry by the Women's Bureau inqmries were made as to the
use of benzol as a quick-drying solvent, especially of cements, and
it was found that frequently its presence or absence was not known,
though in some cases information regarding it was required by law. •
In the canning industry benzol is used in sealing cans. The use of
a rubber in which benzol is present had supplanted the poisonous
lead formerly used for sealing cans, but investi~ation has shown that
the tendency is to use less benzol in the cannmg industry since its
harmful qualities have been understood. Preventive measures consist
chiefly of a system of exhausts, carrying off the fumes as close as
possible to the point of origin.
The following general instructions to prevent industrial poisoning
ne from a Bureau of Labor Statistics bulletin on occupation.11
To prevent industrial poisoning these precautions should be taken:
Personal cleanliness must be maintained.
Workers must be instructed as to the toxicity of the substance handled.
Frequent medical examinations of workers must be made to detect early
symptoms of disease.
Workers should not be allowed to eat in workrooms where poisonous substances are handled.
Work clothes should be removed at end of day's work.
Proper lavatory facilities should be provided.
Work clothes should receive special attention. The use of gloves and boots
are often necessary.
Mechanical devices for confining the poisons are of prime importance.
Fumes and gases should be taken care of by proper ventilation, the use of
exhaust systems, fans, and blowers.
Persons who work in an atmosphere polluted by poisonous fumes and gases
E>hould wear gas masks properly suited to the conditions.

The ordinary infectious diseases may be caused in industry by using
materials containing germs, contact with individuals suffering from
some disease, or by the use of common equipment, towels, or drinking
rups. Though mu ch progress has been made in requiring each indi-•
vidual to have his own equipment, towels, and drinking cup, there

Hamilton. Alice.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Industrial Toxicology.

New York, 1934, p. 21.



are still far too many cases o:f disease caused by their common use.
Frequently infections result :from injuries, even in spite o:f immediate
attention. When such infections occur, the healing period is prolonged, permanent disability often results, or the degree of impairment may be increased.

Perhaps the two most important health measures that industry can
institute for all workers, but particularly for women who are not
organized so that they can make their own demands and who are
massed in the low-paid industries, are a short working day, one o:f
8 hours or less, and the payment o:f a Ii ving wage. Long hours o:f
work and a low wage-the lot o:f the average woman worker-are
great menace,s to health. Standards of earnings and working time,
such as minimum-wage and maximum-hour legislation, are instrumental in warding off malnutrition and in insuring rest and recreation, thus building up resistance to fatigue.
Several theories concerning women and their need of earning
money have been proved fallacious. Among these should be men:
tioned the" pin-money theory", the suggestion that women living at
home need less money than those who do not, and the supposition that
women are transients on their jobs.
Standard wages
· The general standard recommended by the Women's Bureau for
the payment o:f women's wages may be repeated here:
Wages should be established on the basis of occupation and not on
the basis of sex or race. The minimum-wage rate should cover the
cost o:f living for dependents, not merely :for the individual.
It is a well-known :fact that the purchasing power of the dollar
varies with cost of living, so that what is. adequate for maintaining
a proper standard of living in one year may be insufficient at another
Current wages
Women's earnings are low; pay envelops of $7, $6, and even less
are still received by many women. Such wages are due partly to the
belie:f that " women's work " has little economic value, though many
of their occupations require great dexterity and skill.
The method o:f pl:l,yment-time or piece-influences greatly the.
amount earned. If workers are paid by the piece, those who work
rapidly earn more than the slower workers. However, piecework
earnings are very irregular, depending as they do on the flow of
work. A time rate guarantees a greater certainty of earnings. Regardless o:f method, whether time or piece, the amounts actually
earned :frequently are below what the rates would indicate, many
:factors-chiefly absence from work, whether voluntary or involuntary-serving to reduce them. In practically aH lines of women's .
work in industry higher wages are deserved and should be paid.
Cost of living
Estimates o:f minimum co,s ts of living .:for one woman, secured
from various sources, are given below. For an industrial woman in.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



New York City the cost of room and meals alone in 1929 was given as
$14.69 a week, according to a report of the Industrial Commission.
This allowed nothing for clothing, doctors' bills, or the many incidental expenses generally considered necessities. Other estimates of
decent-living budgets, made by the Young Women's Christian Association in 1930 for various cities, are as follows: Boston, $15; Chicago, $20; Kansas City, $16; New Orleans, $9.96; Philadelphia, $21.
In 1928 the Bureau of Labor Statistics in Texas reported $15 a week
as the least a woman could " exist " on, excluding any expenditure
for illness or recreation. The Consumers' League of Cincinnati estimated that a woman's minimum living cost in 1930 was $17.50. The
Industrial Commission of Colorado, in its report for 1928-1930, considered $17.20 the least on which a woman could live.

Earnings in 17 States surveyed by Women's Bureau
Despite these facts as to the minimum cost of maintaining a healthful and decent standard of living, it is still a well-known :fact, as
already stated, that many women are paid amounts far below even
the lowest estimated cost. State surveys by the Women's Bureau from
1920 to 1934 yielded wage figures for about 180,000 women, almost all
white, in 17 States. The medians of the week's earnings-half the
women receiving more and half receiving less-may be classified as
:follows: Under $9, Alabama (1922) and Mississippi (1924) ; $9 and
under $11, Kentucky (1921), South Carolina (1921), and Texas
(1932); $11 and under $13, Arkansas (1922, 1932-33), Delaware
(1924), Georgia (1920-21), Kansas (1920), Michigan (1934), Missouri (1922), and Tennessee (1925); $13 and under $15, New Jersey
(1922), Ohio (1922) , and Oklahoma (1924); $15 and under $17,
Florida (1928) and Rhode Island (1920). Conditions such as these
exist throughout the industries where women are employed, and the
standard of living that a wage of around $12. a week must require
certainly should be recognized as one that will sap the health and
vitality of a large group of workers.
This is particularly true when the woman worker is recognized as
a provider not only :for herself but for dependents. The responsibilities of the wage-earning woman and her contribution to the support of others-mother, :father, sisters, brothers, husband, childrenhave not yet received full recognition from industry and the public.
Yet every investigation that touches wage-earning women piles up
the evidence that women are working more often than not to eke
out a husband's or :father's insufficient wage and make it adequate
for the family needs, or to earn the living that :formerly had been
provided by a husband or father who has died or been incapacitated.
Minimum wage
The principle of a minimum wage :for women-the setting by law
of a figure below which the wages of adult experienced women may
not fall-is becoming more generally recognized in the United States.
Sixteen States have minimum-wage laws, and bills supporting such
legislation have been introduced and are under consideration in several other States. If minimum-wage legislation for women were
Nation-wide, a certain degree of economic security would be assured
them and their :fam~lies. ·when industry does not pay women a
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



living wage for the work they do, the community suffers. The
effects of low wages show themselves in the real poverty of working
women and their families, forced to exist at low standards, seriously
undermining their health, and making it necessary to supplement
their earnings by public relief. The beneficent results of a living
wage, to present and future generations, would be immeasurable.

As already mentioned, the hours of work and the wages paid are
factors within the control of management that have a very direct
effect on the health of women workers. Most women in industry,
unlike most men, have heavy responsibilities outside their working
hours. Generally they launder and care for their own clothing and
in many cases the clothing of others; large proportions do their own
housework and prepare the meals for themselves or a group; where
there are children, employed women share in their care or have that
entire responsibility. vVith these facts in mind, the hours spent in
work outside the home are seen to form only a part of the working
day of women in industry.

Daily hours
With the increased productivity of industry due to the use of
improved machinery, to better planning, and to greater efficiency of
management and workers, the trend has been toward a reduction
in the working day and week. In many cases the decrease in production is not marked, if it appears at all, as workers frequently produce as much in a shorter work period, due to the lessened fatigue.
In its standard for the employment of women, the Women's Bureau recommends that daily hours shall not exceed 8, and that at
least 30 minutes shall be allowed for lunch. It also recommends that
a rest period of 10 minutes be allowed in the middle of the morning
and the afternoon without increase in the daily hours.
A day shorter than 8 hours is a probability of the future, suggested by the plans for a 30-hour week for industry, in practice in
some plants and plam1ed for others in the scarcity of employment.
Speeding.-Legal regulation of the hours of work is considered
by all thinking persons as real progress in protective legislation.
In many cases the effect has been beneficial, but in some others, including certain large woman-employing industries, a reduction of
hours has caused employers to require of all workers the same output under considerably shortened hours as was their average with
a longer day. Different methods of achieving this have been tried.
Among these should be mentioned increasing the speed of the machinery and increasing the number of machines that each worker
must operate. As a result, the less-adaptable women have suffered
from nervous strain that has caused illness and loss of time.
Fatigue.-Fatigue has been defined as a diI_ninished capacity for
work which is the result of previous work. It has a larger share
in the promotion of illness than is generally understood. Many
writers on the subject have shown the harmful effects of fatigue, both
on the worker and on her output. In two works on fatigue, one
by Josephine Goldmark and the other by a committee of the British
Ministry of Munitions, arguments for a shortened working day have
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



been given. They both present the fact that efficiency is reduced
by fatigue, and show that output can be increased when the workday
is shortened or when time to rest is granted.

Weekly hours
Even more important·than short daily hours are reasonably short
hours of work in the week. In cases in which a worker might withstand occasional long days, a long week produces cumulative fatigue
that cannot be overcome. The standard recommended by the Women's Bureau is that with the maximum 8-hour day should come
the maximum 44-hour week; in other words, there should be at least
1½ days of rest in 7.
At the time of writing, this standard is somewhat out of date:
considering that the maximum hours set by more than three-fourths
of the codes for productive workers under the N. R. A. by July
1934 were 40 or less. The trend in industry is most certainly toward
reducing hours rather than increasing them.

Irregularities of piecework
In any discussion of time worked, attention should be called to
the evil in many plants under which supposedly regular workers on
piece rates are forced to spend hours in waiting for work. At such
idle times, of course, they earn nothing. This results not only in
reduced earnings but in a very impaired morale among the workers.

Night work
Even more serious in its harmful effects than a very long working
day is work done at night. The deleterious effects of night work are
emphasized by physicians, insurance actuaries, and other scientific
investigators. The two statements following were made by authorities in the medical profession: " Outside of great emergency or absolute industrial necessity, all night work should be abolished, and
more so :for women than :for men", and "It is unnatural :for mo~t
:forms of life to work at night and attempt to sleep in the day."
Night work is especially harmful because of the loss of sleep
that ensues, causing excessive fatigue. For the woman who works
at night the strain is very great, not only because of her different
physical make-up but because, as previously described, her work
does not end when she leaves the factory. In addition to this, night
workers lose much in social contacts. Night workers prove to be
less efficient, due to the continued loss of sleep and to the fact that
all work has to be done by artificial light. Accidents are more liable
to occur at night, due to increased fatgue as well as to artificial light.

It is generally conceded that vacations with pay are a worth-while
investment on the part of employers, but in spite of this a large
proportion of employers grant no such privilege. From all accounts,
vacations are extended to only a small proportion of industrial
workers, but the tendency to allow them is increasing. In a study
published in 1927 it was estimated that more than a million industrial
workers in the United States were given vacations with pay. A study
made by the Bureau of Women in Industry in New York State
showed an increase of 7 percent in the proportion of plants granting
vacations with pay in 1930 as compared with 1925.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Sick leave with pay
Sick leave with pay is not usual for industrial workers. Different
forms of group insurance or of sick-benefit or mutual-aid systems are
available in some of the large organizations, but generally in small
plants nothing of the sort exists.
With definite standards established for the physical condition of
work places, hours of work, and earnings, and a minimization of
industrial hazards affecting workers, greater interest should be manifested in the workers themselves. Many different factors are responsible either independently or in a related way for the physical
and mental well-being of the individual. As already stated, a
healthy, content~d body of workers is the best asset an employer can
have. Insecurity of employment and uncertainty of h~alth each
have a very damaging effect on the workers. It is with the hope of
alleviating some of the misery connected with the evils of both of
these that the Committee on Economic Security has set as one of
its objectives "The assurance of an adequate income to each human
being * * * in sickness or in health."
In the Social Security Act, recently passed by Congress, an attempt will be made to lighten the burden for the aged, the unemployed, mothers, and children.
Physical examination
As direct consequences of long hours and low wages, fatigue and
malnutrition result, and these two frequently are the forerunners of
more serious trouble. To assist workers in maintaining their good
health or to advise them in the case of disabilities of which they
may not be aware, physical examinations should be given by qualified physicians to all new employees. Treatment should be advised
for any physical defect or illness found to exist at time of examination so that a cure may be accomplished wherever possible. As a
follow-up of this first examination others should be given periodically as a matter of health preservation, especially where the work
done involves recognized or possible hazards.
Health maintenance and prevention of disease are accomplished
in various ways. To meet emergencies of illness as they arise, a
well-equipped first-aid kit should be maintained. Other measures
for preservation of health provided by some firms include talks,
bulletins, and posters on health problems, and classes designed to
give education along health lines. In some plants visits to ill employees are made by industrial nurses or others interested in the
health of the workers.
Placement of workers
Besides seeing that a person is physically fitted to accept a position, it is essential to see that he is mentally well equipped. To
gain some knowledge of the mental ability of applicants for jobs,
various tests have been devised that show the individual's ability.
They have been developed during the past 20 years or so, and consist
of so-called '' intelligence tests, achievement tests, diagnostic tests,
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mechanical aptitude tests, and others." Use is made of these tests in
schools to help t eachers and counselors to advise the pupils in the
course of study to be pursued, and also in industry by persons
specially trained to help the workers. From the results o:f such
tests it is possible to decide the kinds of work :for which applicants
are best fitted.
To make effective the proper placing of workers in the jobs :for
which they are best fitted and their progress in such jobs, various
plans are :followed in different plants. In large organizations this
is accomplished through the personnel departments, and in small
plants through the supervisors or :foremen. It is advisable to have
women in these positions where women are employed.
Until the depression set in, industry was becoming more conscious
o:f its obligations to workers. More and more was the human factor
being recognized. Workers themselves, through education and organization, were setting up standards o:f work and living. Though
there has been a cessation of much of this constructive work during
the past 5 years or so, it is hoped that what had been accomplished
will not be lost and that it will result ultimately in a more efficient
life for this important group of workers.

Industrial home work
The use of the home as a workshop, thereby greatly reducing the
cost to the manufacturer o:f products made there, has been a practice ever since the beginning o:f the modern industrial system. With
the recent attempts to regulate hours and earnings :for factory
workers, serious difficulties have arisen through the competition of
home workers. Attempts have been made to regulate hours and
earnings of these workers, but they have not been successful. In
cases of rush orders, home workers frequently extend a very long day
far into the night so as to finish a special job in the time set.
The harmful effects of such hours, resulting in fatigue and nervous
strain, need not be stressed here.
In addition to these :factors affecting the home workers themselves, the conditions of homes in which work is carried on are far
from ideal. Inspection o:f homes to insure healthful conditions as
well as enforcement of regulations of hours and earnings has not
proved very successful.
For these reasons it is the desire of most informed persons that
all home work be abolished. This has been brought about to some
extent by the regulation or prohibition of home work by 118 codes
under the N. R. A.
In an endeavor to alleviate any hardship caused by such regulation or prohibition, an Executive order was issued by the President
as of May 15, 1934, allowing the granting o:f permits to do work
at home, in an industry in which it has been abolished, to persons
so handicapped that they cannot work in a :factory or needed at home
to care :for invalids;
The Women's Bureau has from time to time made investigations
and published reports on industrial home work, the earliest of which
was Home Work in Bridgeport, Conn., published in 1920. Within
the past :few years several surveys o:f home work have been made by
the Bureau. Four of these were 's ignificant parts of larger studies
concerned with Connecticut, 'Texas, Puerto Rico, and immigrant
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women. The other three were specifically on industrial home workone on southern mountaineer handicraft, another on hand-made handkerchiefs1 and the third on home work in Rhode Island, chiefly in
the lace mdustry. An extensive survey o:f home work was carried
on during 1934 by the United States Department o:f Labor, and
an analysis of the various types of home work known to be done
in this country, entitled " The Commercialization o:f the Home
Through Industrial Home Work ", has been prepared by th~ Women's

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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


· 3. Standards for the Employment of Women in Industry. 1928.
87. Sanitary Drinking Facilities, with special reference to drinking
fountains. 1931.
94. State Requirements £or Industrial Lighting: A handbook for
the protection of women workers, showing lighting standards
and practices.· 1932.
99. The Installation and Maintenance of Toilet Facilities in Places
of Employment. 1933.
114. State Reporting of Occupational Disease, including a survey
of legislation applJlEg to women. 1934.
129. Industrial Injuries to Women in 1930 and 1931 Compared with
Injuries to Men. 1935.

Leaflet-Why legislate living wages for women workers I
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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis