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safety movement

safety movement, widespread effort to prevent accidents that followed the increasing number of casualties in industry, traffic and transportation, and homes arising out of the Industrial Revolution and the growth of cities. Large manufacturing companies, public utilities, railroads, steamship lines, and insurance companies were particularly concerned with reducing the number of injuries and deaths as well as with cutting the cost of workmen's compensation, other damage payments, and litigation arising out of accidents. Humanitarianism and the evolution of an awareness of public responsibility were other factors in the initiation of the safety movement, which took the form of educating the public in accident prevention by way of safety clubs, posters, magazines, and other means. A vital part of the safety movement was the passing of laws, such as those requiring that buildings be constructed in accord with fire prevention laws, that automobiles meet certain basic safety requirements, that halls be well lighted in certain classes of buildings, that machinery be properly guarded, that food conform to specified standards, and that poisonous materials be so marked. In the United States the National Safety Council, founded in 1913, collects and distributes information and statistics regarding safety in industry, the home, travel, and schools. Numerous federal, state and local agencies deal with safety issues. On the federal level, the Federal Aviation Administration (founded 1958) deals with air travel; the Consumer Product Safety Commission (1972) protects the public against unsafe products; the Environmental Protection Agency (1970) regulates toxic chemicals and environmental hazards; the Food and Drug Administration (1931) regulates food, drugs, and cosmetics; the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (1970) enforces safety in the workplace; the Federal Highway Administration (1966) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (1970) administer programs to increase safety on the nation's highways; the Federal Railroad Administration (1966) covers rail safety; the Mine Safety and Health Administration (1973) regulates mines; the National Transportation Safety Board (1966) investigates and regulates safety issues for all types of transportation; the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (1974) regulates nuclear power; and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (1981) inspects meat and poultry products.

See C. L. Gilmore, Accident Prevention and Loss Control (1970); R. Mokhiber, Corporate Crime and Violence (1988).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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