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by J. W. Stickler, M. D., in the report of the New Jersey State Board of Health for the year 1886:
"The hat bodies, after they leave the forming mill,go to the sizing room,' where they are taken by men called 'sizers' or 'makers," whose business it is to dip them into hot water acidulated with sulphuric acid, and then roll them back and forth upon an inclined plane, in order to make the felt contract till it shall be reduced to the proper size. They are next run through a sizing machine which gives them still greater compactness. In this room the vapor of the hot water is so dense that one can scarcely see the floor or the passage way between the kettles. The floor, as a rule, is wet; actually has puddles of water at many places, so that as you walk from one group of men to another you get your feet wet in a few moments. This evil might be remedied by having a grating placed over the floor, at least around the kettles where the men stand while at work. The hot water vapor could all be removed from the room by means of exhaust pipes with funnel shaped openings placed over the kettles, and this precaution ought to be insisted upon, for such an apparatus can be easily made and put into position, and the expense would not be great This hot water vapor, of course, deposits itself upon every object in the room (men included) and upon every part of the room; it then drops upon the men at work, giving them a shower bath from the time they enter till they leave the apartment. In winter this is a serious matter, for with wet clothes and exposure to sudden changes of temperature, they are very apt to develop either rheumatism or other serious affections. Some of the men wear no shoes or stockings, and those who do, unless they are rubber, have their feet constantly wet. It is true, however, that many of the men wear rubber shoes or boots, also rubber aprons, thus protecting themselves so far as their feet and lower limbs are concerned. I have also been told that the men (most of them) change their clothing after they finish work in the sizing room, but they'change' in a room not thoroughly heated, so that the exposure there is attended with some risk. [A table of diseases most common among these men is given, but is not reproduced here].
“This table shows that of 240 sizers or makers, 76 have catarrh; 44 have rheumatism; 41 have cough; 17 have had the shakes; 13 now have the shakes; 12 constantly catch cold because of sudden change of temperature; 7 complain of dyspepsia; 200 use stimu. lants and tobacco. This is a very bad record for this class of men and should lead to the adoption of such improvements as will render the sizing room less dangerous to the health of those who work therein. * * * From the drying room the hats go to the pouncers, who put the hat-bodies upon revolving blocks and cleanse them, by means of emery, of the rough fur which bristles all over the hat when it first comes from the dying-room. In this room there is considerable dust, which finds its way into the nos. trils, throat and lungs of the operatives. It should be said that a suction tube is generally placed near each block, in order to pro. vide for the escape of as much of the dust as possible, but notwithstanding this precaution some of the dust escapes into the room and is inhaled by the men.”
“ Twenty-seven pouncers were questioned, and of this number 12 have catarrh; 4 have cough; 3 have the shakes; 2 have had the shakes; i has a poisoned face (mercurial); 14 used stimulants and tobacco.”
“ The hats are now ready for the finishing room. It is in this room more than in any other, perhaps, that the health of the operatives is most seriously impaired. In the first place these rooms are, as a rule, very poorly ventilated. This lack of ventilation leads to the accumulation of considerable fine dust, and prevents the escape of air which contains the mercuralized vapor which rises from the hats while they are being pressed with the hot irons used for that purpose. When the finishers take the hats they place them upon stationary or movable blocks, and sandpaper and iron them off smoothly. In doing this they bend over the blocks, bringing the face very close to the iron or the sandpaper, as the case may be. In this manner they place themselves in the best possible position to inhale either the volatilized mercury or the fine fur fibres. I have learned that there is a vast difference between a high finishing room and a low one, as regards the health of the men who work in them. The shakes are much more frequent in the low than in the high finishing room. This is due to the poorer ventilation of the room on the ground floor. The dust in many of these rooms is imperceptible, as it exists in the air (at least in some of the rooms), but if you will go to the window, or the bench, you will find a deposit of dust sufficiently thick to make it possible to trace your name in it. In certain finishing rooms even the air is made cloudy by the dust which is detached from the hats with the sandpaper.
“It is this dust which enters the nose, throat and lungs of the men and causes, primarily, only a slight irritation of the mucus membrane, but secondarily, in many instances a consumptive process. The danger arising from exposures to the volatillzed mercury, is also apparently very great, for as the men use the irons, they bend very close to the blocks in order to exert as much pressure as possible upon the hats. As the hats are moistened before being ironed, they are, of course, in just the condition to part with a por: tion of the mercury which they contain, for the moment the hot iron touches the felt, the mercury, or a portion of it, passes off in vapor, and is very apt to be inhaled by the ironer. But I have not discovered that mercurial poisoning is common at the present day ; on the other hand, it is uncommon, so far as my observation instructs me. It seems to be the fine fur dust which does most permanent harm. Some of the men told me they could expectorate black dust, one or two weeks after stopping work. It might be true that the small percentage of nitrate of mercury which these fibres contain, acts injuriously upon the lungs, causing, or helping to cause ultimately, a phthisical process. My own belief is, that the damage to the respiratory organs is the result of the mechanical irritation produced by the fur fibres."
"As a matter of fact, the testimony of 222 finishers will show what diseases they are specially prone to, viz:
“Of those recently visited, 64 have catarrh ; 42 have cough; 17 have the shakes ; 16 have had the shakes ; 15 have rheumatism ; 9 have had mercurial sore mouth; 7 have the sore mouth at present time; 7 have bronchitis; 2 had sore mouth when working in low shops; 4 have chest pains; 4 have phthisis ; 4 have catarrh; i has dyspepsia; I has insomnia; i has asthma; 127 use stimulants and tobacco.
" It is plainly shown by this list that the diseases of the organs of respiration are far more common than is generally supposed to be the case, and more common than any other disease. It is likewise the most fatal disease the hatter suffers from; most dangerous, because it is so comparatively insiduous.”
Neither these statements, nor the statistics of the high rate of mortality among hatters, can surprise any one who has inspected the buildings in which the work is prosecuted, or observed the men while at their work. In Orange, in the buildings but recently erected, those that are considered the most commodious and best adapted to their purpose, no attention whatever has been given in their construction to the comfort or health of the men ; while some others, where hatters work are a disgrace to civil. ization. The surprise is that men can be induced to work at all in such death producing enclosures. The only explanation for their being there must be either their profound ignorance of the danger to which they are exposed by their surroundings, or because their necessities compel them to take the risk in order to procure a living. It is hard to believe that men of ordinary intelligence could be so indifferent to the ordinary laws of health that they will work
at such an occupation as hatting without any attempt to get rid of the dust and slush to which they are at present subjected; or eat their meals from off the bench where they work, while the whole atmosphere around them is filled with fine particles of hair, and dust, and every object in the room covered with black dirt. Yet this is a common practice. In one case, go finishers were observed working in a third story room (140 feet long and 30 feet wide, with ceiling not more than 10 feet to the roof), which was unplastered while the beams, rafters, and girders were loaded with the dust that found a lodgment on them, which the least commotion in the building would cause to fall. At least 50 of the number were eating their dinner and seemed to be utterly unconscious of any danger from such a practice when spoken to about it, but laughingly as. sured the writer that the dust had not been removed since the place was occupied about two years previous. And when the fact of the workmen in the sizing room, who stand in water, was mentioned, and the simple and inexpensive means by which it could be largely avoided was spoken of, the reply was that it would cost money and hat manufacturers did not care to expend money for such purposes, if they could help it.
Hatters cannot be charged with any lack of interest in what they suppose to be of direct benefit to themselves or to their craft, for they are among the most energetic and best organized trades in the country, and are always quick to resent any infringement on their price list, or of any of the shop rules and regulations made by the union for the securing of wages; but it does not seem to have occured to them that all their efforts to keep up wages, and thus to increase their income, is largely offset by the impairment of their health, due to neglect of proper hygienic regulations of their workshops.
The various branches of earthenware manufacture, or the potter's art, may be classed, generally speaking, under three heads, the clay, kiln and decorating departments. Under the first are included slipmakers, throwers, turners, handlers, jiggermen and hollow ware pressers. The kiln department comprises the kilnmen, dippers, and in the bisque and glost rooms, dressers or brushers, who are females ; while printers, burnishers, painters, gilders, ground layers, fillers-in, transferers and firemen come under the decorating department. Mould makers constitute a distinct class, producing the moulds on which dishes, plates and the other products are shaped.
Their work consists in taking a cast in plaster of Paris from a model. In making ordinary sizes of moulds there is little strain or lifting to be done, but in case of large ones the work is heavier and more laborious. In finishing the moulds they use a guide to rest the arm on, one end of which they press against the breast, very much in the same manner as a carpenter uses a brace and bit. The rooms in which the work is done are separate from the rest of the establishment and are generally well lighted and ventilated, and with care in handling the dry material, they need not subject themselves to a great amount of dust.
Slip Makers are employed in preparing the clay or material of which earthenware is made, grinding and mixing it so as to form a dough suitable for handling. There is but little skill required to perform the duty; nor is there anything they do, more than there is in ordinary labor, calculated to break them down; but they frequently work in damp cellars and the dust that rises in their work-places, while mixing the material, is inhaled by them.
Throwers shape their work upon a wheel, which is kept revolving by an assistant. While employed they sit upon a stool with their work directly in front of them, and frequently stoop over very much. This has a tendency to contract the chest and is very tiresome to the operative.
Turners are employed in turning into a complete form the ware made by the thrower or jiggerman. While at work the turner is in a standing position (the work being similar to that of wood turning at a lathe), but from habit many of them stand in a stooping or bent over attitude. This has a tendency to contract the chest. There is frequent change from the dry rooms, where they work, to the damp cellar, where the unfinished ware is kept in the proper condition; the work of listing and bringing the ware from one room to the other is sometimes heavy and laborious, while the thin shavings of clay taken from the article operated on soon becomes dry and reduced to dust, which the constant shuffling of the feet causes to float, continually to be inhaled by the workman.
Handlers are engaged in shaping and fixing the handles to cups, mugs, &c. It is customary for the workman when working