From: Peter Zavon <pzavon**At_Symbol_Here**>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Survey of Workers in the Los Angeles Garment Industry
Date: Thu, 19 Jan 2017 20:55:09 -0500
Reply-To: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**PRINCETON.EDU>
Message-ID: 004401d272c0$3bdfdda0$b39f98e0$**At_Symbol_Here**

That is not what happened at the Hawthorne Works.


"Efficiency Experts," precursors of the field that came to be called Human Factors or Ergonomics, did a study there to see how much lighting was needed to get the work done properly and efficiently. They increased the lighting step by step and asked the workers about their working conditions and how they felt. Efficiency increased with the increased lighting. Then, as good researchers, they decreased the lighting, step by step and asked the workers the same questions. And efficiency INCREASED with each reduction in the lighting, even down to such low levels that it was very difficult to see anything.


They concluded that the workers were reacting to a perceived interest by management in how they were doing - morale increased and drove efficiency, not the lighting.


This came to be known as the Hawthorne Effect. When worker believe management is truly interested in them, their output improves.



Peter Zavon, CIH
Penfield, NY




From: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**PRINCETON.EDU] On Behalf Of walter.garrow
Sent: Thursday, January 19, 2017 7:16 AM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Survey of Workers in the Los Angeles Garment Industry


The Triangle Shirtwaist fire (over 100 years ago) was one of those events that was so horrific that it changed history.  Many died.  It significantly started both the rise in unions and safety organizations.  Another event that involved the Hawthorne Works, which was a large factory complex of the Western Electric Company in Cicero, Illinois, also impacted history.  Poor working conditions were identified and in that case employee concerns were addressed.  A result was increased productivity. 


However, a philosopher named George Santa Yana said "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."  Winston Churchill also stated that.


As great and as impacting as those two working conditions events were, it seems that through time, some forget.  How blind some may be to the conditions and safety of those who produce their products and profits.



Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone


-------- Original message --------

From: Richard Rosera <richardrosera**At_Symbol_Here**GMAIL.COM>

Date: 1/18/17 10:23 PM (GMT-05:00)


Subject: [DCHAS-L] Survey of Workers in the Los Angeles Garment Industry


One wonders whether anybody associated with this industry has heard about the Triangle Shirtwaist fire!


Richard Rosera

Rosearray EHS Services LLC



Begin forwarded message:

From: The Pump Handle <donotreply**At_Symbol_Here**>

Subject: [New post] I'm 100% certain that this is why my body is messed up

Date: January 18, 2017 at 9:33:10 PM EST

To: richardrosera**At_Symbol_Here**



New post on The Pump Handle


I'm 100% certain that this is why my body is messed up

by Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH

There's a thriving garment industry in Los Angeles which specializes in small volume production. The employers, who supply the trendy casual sportswear for companies such as Forever 21, Charlotte Russe, Papaya, and Wet Seal, employ about 45,000 workers in Los Angeles.  A survey of more than 300 of those workers describes the dirty, dangerous and unhealthy conditions of their jobs. The survey results and companion findings from focus groups are reported in Dirty Threads, Dangerous Factories: Health and Safety in Los Angeles' Fashion Industry.

=B7         Nearly 72 percent of the workers indicated that their factories were brimming with dust

=B7         Nearly 50 percent reported poor ventilation which resulted in excessive dust and heat

=B7         Nearly 47 percent reported that bathrooms were soiled and not maintained

=B7         49 percent reported that their factories did not have a first aid kit

=B7         More than 42 percent indicated that exit doors were obstructed and inaccessible

=B7         About 40 percent reported infestations of rats, mice, and cockroaches

=B7         More than 29 percent reported that the lighting inside the factory was insufficient

=B7         Nearly 27 percent reported that they did not have fresh water to drink at their workplace

The numbers tell just part of the story. About the dust-laden air, workers said:

"they typically had to find their own protective methods - even using scraps of fabric as masks-.. One worker (a sewing machine operator) shared her experience: =E2=80=98My eyes get so red. It is really sad. All day there is all this dust around and it is even worse for those fellow workers who don't wear goggles or glasses.'"

About the obstructed exits, the report notes:

"Workers in focus group sessions were seriously worried about cluttered, blocked exits, dangerously overstocked workspaces, and a general crampedness that impedes their movement about the factory."

About the poor lighting, the report explains:

"Garment workers, especially those who spend years sewing 10-12 hours a day and 5-6 days a week in under lit workplaces, often complain about their vision."

About the unsanitary bathrooms the report notes:

"Many workers explained that they would sometimes simply forego the restroom altogether, and not only because of their uncleanness, but because they also fear retaliation or pay reductions under the piece rate system for taking bathroom breaks."

The garment workers also reported that the heat in the factories is unbearable. A sewing machine operator who participated in one of the focus groups said:

"The heat at the factory is so overwhelming that one time I thought my feet were burning, between the heat of the pedal of the machine and the heat inside the shop, I felt like I was going to pass out."

The researchers paint a grim picture of the job for garment workers in Los Angeles, including why workers say their bodies are "messed up." Sewing machine operators typically sit for 8-10 hours per day on hard folding metal chairs. They hunch over the equipment all day long and repeat the same movements with their shoulders, arms and hands hundreds of times a day. Pressers and trimmers stand all day handling hundreds of pieces of fabric.

One worker described the consequence of the repetitive tasks in the awkward posture:

"I've worked in the garment industry for 24 years. .... I worked at my last factory for about 13 years, stitching pockets onto expensive jeans. ...The chairs we used for work were your typical fold up metal ones and because of the way the jean pockets had to be stitched on, we would sit pretty crooked to produce the clothes faster. I'm 100% certain that this is why my body is messed up. My left shoulder hurts the most. This is where most of the pain accumulates. However, this pain trickles down onto my back (middle and lower) all the way up to my left thigh and knee."

The research for Dirty Threads, Dangerous Factories: Health and Safety in Los Angeles' Fashion Industry was conducted by the Garment Worker Center, UCLA Labor Center, and UCLA Labor Occupational Safety and Health program. The authors and workers make four recommendations to improve working conditions in Los Angeles' garment industry. They include holding both the vendors (suppliers) and the brands responsible for working conditions; prohibiting piece-rate pay systems; and ensuring that garment workers are covered by a recently adopted state regulation to protect workers from excessive heat.

The report includes terrific visual aids. A companion 7-minute video which features interviews with garment workers is available, too.

Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH | January 18, 2017 at 9:33 pm | URL:


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