During the waning years of the nineteenth century,
American workers experienced changes in
production methods that proved disastrous to their
lives and health. The growth of the factory system
and mass production, combined with a nearly total
lack of regulation and control, created extremely
unhealthy and dangerous work sites. Millions of
workers were injured, poisoned, killed on the job as
new factories brought workers into contact with a
host of dangerous processes. Railroad, construction
and steel workers, and miners were the most endangered,
experiencing death rates often twice and
three times those of their European counterparts.
In New York, for example, it was estimated that
one man lost his life for every floor built in the
various skyscrapers put up between 1890 and 1920.
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