Introduction

The following is a summary of an article in the February-March 1918 Issue of Safety (the publication of the American Museum of Safety in New York City). The author was Marian K. Clark of the New York State Industrial Commission challenging the inability of many workers to speak English and also their illiteracy in their native language. To what extent is this an issue more than 100 years later?

The article presented some significant statistics and made the argument that

“it is apparent that a large percentage of accidents are caused by the inability of the worker to understand English.”

She advocated an English for Safety Campaign. The goal was to reduce the excessive cost of labor turnover and the cost of compensable accidents for New York employers. She noted that normal turnover is largely increased by industrial accidents. She estimate that the turnover among foreign workers was 15 to 400 percent.

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