Industrial Hygiene Survey: Not Satisfactory?

The document we are highlighting today is an industrial hygiene survey conducted at one of BF Goodrich’s factories. Goodrich's 1984 report contains a thorough account of the plant’s industrial practices, including waste disposal, physical examinations for workers, and adequate ventilation.

On the surface, the report sounded positive enough, with 75 "satisfactory" categories and only 7 that needed attenton.

But a closer look revealed some significant shortcomings.

The report pointed out, for instance, that the plant manager did not have enough training:

Bialke highlighted that the science had come far in fields like toxicology, and knowledge about industrial practices was growing fast, yet companies failed to utilize this scientific research. The report also acknowledged that federal agencies such as NIOSH provided courses to promote industrial hygiene and training, but many corporations, like this plant, failed to take advantage of them.

Another way that this plant fell short of emerging industrial hygiene standards was in its elimination of a monthly environmental report.

By eliminating their report, the plant was unable to update both upper management in their company and the Environmental Health Department of the problems they might have experienced. Being able to choose to keep or eliminate monthly reports demonstrated one of the many ways in which corporations could limit federal monitoring of industrial practices.

The inspection also revealed potentially dangerous working conditions for employees handling nickel and chrome compounds because they were being conducted in unventilated areas.

Internal documents like these would become important in the 1980s and 1990s, as occupational health concerns entered the courtroom and workers sought to link ailments with their time at manufacturing sites.