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attributed to the carelessness of the employee miglit justly be transferred to the shoulders of the employers. Where guards and appliances of protection might be applied to much advantage, employees are often permitted, or rather expected, to depend solely upon their dexterity of hand and their continued vigilance to avoid personal injury." Factory Inspector Watchorn said: “Dangerous machinery has slain its thousands, but a defective sanitary system, together with an insufficient supply of ventilation, has slain its tens of thousands."
All these factors in accidents are clearly recognized in the numerous legislative acts of recent years for the protection of the health and limbs of workers. One might instance the laws in regard to ventilation, heating and lighting, to exhaust fans for carrying off dust and poisonous fumes, to overcrowding, to keeping machinery clean and guarding that which is dangerous, etc. In all this mass of legislation drink was not marked out as being a conspicuous cause of accident.
Then one might recall the fact of the multitude of women and children employed in industry who are all liable to injury; but it requires great disrespect for facts to assert that when they are hit by accidents it must largely be due to their intemperate habits.
STATISTICS OF ACCIDENTS AND THEIR CAUSES
Railroad Casualties. -It is unnecessary to dwell upon the numbers who annually are killed or injured, both employees and passengers, in the course of a year or any other period. We know the toll is terribly heavy. In accounting for it, the Interstate Commerce Commission instances quite other causes than drink. First of all, reference is made to violations of the Safety-Appliance Act by railroad companies, for which they are constantly being prosecuted by the United States authorities. In 1912-13 no less than 195 employees were killed and 3,361 were injured while coupling or uncoupling cars, while casualties caused by collisions with overhead and side obstructions, etc., resulted in 721 deaths and 18,257 injuries. With proper regard for the law in respect to safety appliances and obstructions, perhaps most of these accidents could have been avoided, and the use of safety appliances certainly has no relation to the personal habits of the employees.
Then there is a fertile source of accidents in road defects.
"With the track and roadway existing upon many railroads in this country the danger of serious derailments is ever present,” says the Interstate Commerce Commission. In 1913 derailments cost seventy lives and the injury of 2,230 persons.
Among other fruitful sources of railroad accidents, the Interstate Commerce Commission habitually mentions rotten ties, defective and dangerous locomotives, antiquated equipment. But more significant is the fact that the roads so largely overwork their men, violating the law in regard to hours of service and thus unfit them for their hazardous duties. Some accidents are due to the employment of young and inexperienced men.
But what about the errors of the men themselves—disobedience of rules, mistakes at a critical time, etc.? The Interstate Commerce Commission has shown how many and serious accidents are due to the errors of employees; but says: “It must not be assumed that employees deliberately ignore disciplinary measures which they know from experience are necessary for their own safety as well as for the safety of many others who for the time being are placed in their charge; nor is it conceivable that rules which have been enacted to secure safety in the movement of trains are disregarded by employees, knowing that the result may mean their own death, except under pressure of some compelling motive that for the moment overcomes the force of the regulations."
To sum up some other reasons why many railway accidents are bound to happen, one gathers from the Commission in question that obsolete rules, the increase in speed and weight of trains, the crowding of tracks and terminals, are large factors. Employees must take risks or lose their jobs. The traffic must "keep moving at all hazards."
There are therefore abundant causes of railway accidents which are not attributable to the personal habits of the employees. Obviously, the Interstate Commerce Commission regards intemperance as a neglible factor in railroad accidents. The Bureau of Railway Economics, a private organization, “established by railways of the United States for the scientific study of transportation problems," has investigated 1,431 train accidents in which 3,477 persons were killed and 18,908 injured, with the result that only five of these accidents were definitely ascribable to intoxication. For the rest, the causes referred to above had been at play.
ACCIDENTS IN INDUSTRIES
One of the first private inquiries to analyze the factors in such accidents was made by the Sage Foundation in the steel mills of Pittsburgh and published under the title, “Work Accidents and the Law.” The author carefully investigated 410 cases of fatal work accidents and found that only eight cases were to be traced to intoxication, or but two per cent. of the whole number.
The United States Compensation Act covers injuries of workmen employed on government work of different kinds. The number of fatalities has been numerous and, of course, the injuries far more so. In the second year of the act 2,624 claims for compensation were made and 2,499 allowed. Now such claims are always contested if misconduct can be alleged. But in 406 cases in which the Solicitors of the Department of Commerce and Labor were called upon to give an opinion between 1908 and 1912, there were only eighty cases in which negligence or misconduct were alleged and in but one of these was intoxication charged.
New York State Returns: The New York State Workers' Compensation Commission has only been in operation a short time; but in the entire 6,813 claims disposed of by it, the question of intoxication was raised by the employer or insurance carrier in only five or ten cases and not a claim was denied.
Massachusetts:-In the course of 1912 and 1913 there occurred a total of more than 84,000 non-fatal accidents, of which 72,000 were insured. At the same time there were 290 fatal accidents, of which 274 were insured. There is thus a fairly large material to draw from. Only a small proportion of industrial accident claims for loss have been contested by appeal. During the periods considered there were only 156 such and in only four of them was there any charge of intoxication.
Washington:—The Report of the Industrial Insurance Commission says: "Framers of compensation acts in other States and of the Federal bills for railway employees engaged in interstate commerce have devoted considerable attention to intoxication. The records of this Commission do not show many cases of intoxication.” During the year there were in the State of Washington over 11,000 claims submitted by injured workmen which resulted only in twenty-three appeals to the court. It will thus be seen that wilful misconduct, whether by intoxication or otherwise, was of an infinitesimal character.
Where investigations have been made as in Washington concerning the element of personal fault, it appears that a large majority in Washington, 69 per cent. of all causes, are ascribed to risks of trade and not to personal fault.
Wisconsin:Results similar to those mentioned above are reported by the Industrial Commission of Wisconsin. In only five out of 3,571 cases was there any application by employers for a court review in the award by the Industrial Commission. In the contested cases from September, 1911, to June 30, 1913, there was intoxication charged as a cause of injury in but one of sixty-two contested cases. During 1914, in thirty-six cases coming under review, the issue of intoxication was not raised in a single instance.
New Jersey The Workmen's Compensation Law allows compensation “providing the employee was not guilty of negligence,” and it appears that all the cases reported during the year ending October, 1913, were compensated, and that 93 per cent. were settled without reference to a court. It would, therefore, appear that the personal fault element does not enter largely into the case.
California:-In attempting to account for the different causes of industrial accidents there is not any special reference to drink as a cause of injury.
Pennsylvania: - The Pennsylvania Accident Commission recently reported that 20 per cent. of all factory accidents are primarily due to the negligence of the employer; that 25 per cent. are chiefly due to the negligence of the injured man himself. In explaining the element of personal negligence it says: "Fruitful cause of accidents recognized by every authority on the subject is overwork; that is, excessive hours of labor. Many accidents which in statistical tables are ascribed to the negligence of the workman himself are in reality entirely due to overwork." Missouri:
The Commission, speaking about the “Distribution of Fault,” says that "fault on the part of the workman—carelessness, disregard of instructions, drunkenness, etc., is responsible for 22.7 per cent. of the accidents.” It is to be regretted that the different factors included in this 22.7 per cent. of causes were not itemized separately.
Minnesota :-Mr. Lescohier, Expert of the Minnesota Bureau of Labor, in assigning causes of accidents finds that "only 8 per cent. are ascribed wholly to the fault of the workmen." He finds that 60 per cent. are due to inherent dangers.
Fatalities in Mines, and Causcs:- From 1899-1912 there were according to the Statistical Abstracts of the United States, more than 30,000 fatalities in coal mines. According to the tabulations of the causes of accidents, that of intoxication does not enter the case at all.
Evidence of this sort could be added to almost indefinitely. Enough has been given to show that the loose statements in regard to the part played by drink as a factor in industrial accidents is without foundation. It is deplorable that it should be so generally made, because it obscures the facts in regard to the real causes and makes it increasingly difficult to apply the proper remedies,