A History of OH&S
In reaching its diamond anniversary, this publication has transformed itself through the decades in step with industry and the nation.
TIMES were hard in 1932. In the midst of the Great Depression, deprivation and desperation were the order of the day for the millions of Americans struggling to get by. Bank crashes, business failures, homelessness, and unemployment were at all-time highs; bread lines were lengthening in every major city in the country, and malnutrition was rampant. As cities began running out of relief money, social services became scanter by the day. Payrolls were cut and paychecks slashed. Such was the bleak backdrop against which this magazine was born, when a small publishing company set up shop in Chicago at 844 Rush Street that year and produced Volume 1, Number 1 of Industrial Medicine.
The inspiration for the new magazine started with attorney Arthur David Cloud, an Iowa native whom associates invariably have described as both a poet and champion of workers' rights. Almost two years earlier Cloud had established a small magazine called Industrial Relations that covered pension systems, bonuses, welfare policies, profit-sharing plans, and similar topics. But toward the end of 1931, the wordsmith met Dr. Durward R. Jones, then medical director of the Sherwin-Williams Co., who convinced Cloud that the industrial medical department was the most important aspect of industrial relations and the aspect most in need of a specialized magazine. Jones introduced Cloud to Dr. Clarence Olds Sappington, the National Safety Council's Division of Industrial Health director, who, according to Cloud, "for some years had been himself dreaming of a journal devoted to industrial medicine. Persuaded by these two physicians, I changed the name of Industrial Relations to Industrial Medicine, and directed its editorial policy toward the doctors in industry rather than the so-called personnel managers. The response was heartening. Thus encouraged, we tested the field by putting out three issues, starting with October, 1932."1
By all accounts, Sappington's behind-the-scenes work was instrumental, but he was not listed in the staff box until Issue 2, in November, and even then it was only as a consultant. Issue 1 listed Jones as editor and Cloud as managing editor, but the inaugural editorial, titled "The Industrial Physician," was all Cloud. In the piece, essentially a manifesto, he declared the new journal's intentions of focusing on the worker's right to a safe workplace and competent health care: "Technological developments, certain legal problems, plant sanitation, health maintenance and the general welfare of employees make the application of the special knowledge of the physician an industrial necessity," he wrote. "To correct occupational disease and accident hazards and to prevent legal complications it is essential that particular attention be paid to the hygiene and sanitation of the workers' environment. The preservation of the health of the worker through the prevention of disease and accidental injury add to the efficiency of both the wage earner and industry."
The magazine's mission these 75 years later is essentially the same. Substitute the words "safety professional" for "physician" in the lines above and they easily could be included in any editorial this year. Similarly, the subjects covered in that first issue--topics ranging from machine guarding, lead poisoning, and dust sampling apparatus to physical exams, hand and foot protection, and worker's compensation claims for silicosis, and more--are likewise redolent of material appearing today in any given issue.
Prefacing all of the above contents and forming the journal's first printed words were two selections from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. The epigraphs expressed bold, democratic optimism and independence, which, given the state of the country's plummeting economy and plight of its workers, must have sounded like something of a "barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world" to those who first read them. Selections from other literary luminaries, from Kipling to Shakespeare, continued to appear in this premium space for every issue of the first four volumes, spanning the bulk of what history would remember as the New Deal years.
But Cloud and his associates soon discovered it would take more than editorial gusto and readers' encouragement to successfully launch their new enterprise at a time when more business doors were closing than opening. The editorial staff increased with each of Volume 1's three issues, but there was no advertising in any of its collective 220 pages; and although many of the contributing authors represented various medical associations, the magazine had so far formed no firm ties with any of them. By the second year, this changed on both fronts.
The first issue of Volume 2 did not appear until July (1933), but when it did, it became clear how busy Cloud and the few others at Industrial Medicine Inc. had been during the six-month publishing hiatus. In addition to its first advertisements from drug companies and surgical appliance manufacturers, the magazine also now included, along with its "usual contents," the official publications of three associations: "Bulletin" of the American Association of Industrial Physicians and Surgeons (AAIPS); "The Industrial Doctor" of the New York State Society of Industrial Medicine; and "Proceedings" of the Central States Society of Industrial Medicine and Surgery. Along with notice of these new affiliations was the following sentence: "The inclusion of all of these in this magazine makes Industrial Medicine, in the words of Dr. Volney S. Chesney, 'the only medium adequately representing this growing specialty.'"
In the interest of full disclosure, it is here noted that Chesney, a long-time member of AAIPS and editor of its "Bulletin," had a special interest in such effusive promotion because he was also, as of Volume 2, one of the five editors listed in the staff box of Industrial Medicine. In fact, though, Industrial Medicine was not the only "medium" on the block at the time. Another magazine targeting much the same audience, the Journal of Industrial Hygiene, had been in publication since 1919 and would continue until 1950, when it then became absorbed into a brand new title, effectively leaving Cloud's journal, as its editors enthusiastically and rightly noted, as suddenly "the senior magazine in the fields of industrial medicine and industrial hygiene in the United States." But that is jumping ahead a bit.
The fledgling Industrial Medicine was not yet out of the woods in its second year. Despite the addition of some advertising and the support of the several associations, the financial situation was still difficult, to say the least. Budget problems were exacerbated in early 1934 when the U.S. Post Office ruled that the journal did not qualify for the second-class mailing privilege, forcing it to pay the higher parcel post rate. As AAIPS historian Henry B. Selleck has noted, "Costs kept nibbling away at limited reserves. And with the mailing of the June, 1934, issue Industrial Medicine was forced again to suspend publication for a six-month period. AAIPS members, however, were as stubborn in their desire for an official journal as Cloud was in his determination to give them one. They liked what they had seen in early issues, and stood loyally behind the editors and publishers. The journal resumed publication in January, 1935."2
Through the '30s
The early volumes of Industrial Medicine provided a unique mix of surgery-oriented material and industrial hygiene-related topics. For every article on cardiovascular disease, cancer, in-plant syphilis screening, and the surgical treatment of hernias, there were also articles on dust diseases, electric shocks and burns, and the hazards of noise, vibration, fatigue, alcoholism, and all manner of industrial gases and chemicals. Likewise, for every advertisement for surgical instruments, radiographic equipment, mercurochrome (repeatedly), and new drugs, ointments, and compounds (some of which seem dubious at best by current FDA standards), there increasingly appeared ads for dust samplers, gas detectors, and an array of hearing, head, face, eye, and respiratory protection--some of these latter from manufacturers that are still going strong and, notably, still advertising with the magazine today.
Violet H. Hodgson, R.N. became the journal's first female author when her feature "Nursing in Industry: What Are its Possibilities?" appeared in November 1932; the subject appeared regularly throughout the decade and even more during the war years of the next. A forerunner of today's "Product Showcase" pages appeared in the February 1934 issue, and Cloud began writing his intermittent, in-depth "Who's Who" features on leading personalities in the field, including, among many others, such notables as Alice Hamilton (in the August 1935 issue) and the magazine's own "Industrial Hygiene Consultant," Sappington (in October 1936). Another recurring feature, by Dr. Robert T. Legge, comprehensively traced the "History of Industrial Medicine and Occupational Diseases." And, too, there appeared some of the first articles on ergonomics, prior to popular use of that term (e.g. "Proper Seating: An Aid to Industrial Efficiency," in which author J.R. Garner, MD, observed: "For years the employee has been left very largely to his own resources as regards his manner and mode of seating, else he has been provided with a chair, stool or bench, constructed without thought or consideration of its adaptability to the worker's needs or conformity to his structural anatomy"). Book reviews and conference proceedings appeared in almost every issue, from the beginning.
By 1936 the economy was showing modest signs of recovery and Industrial Medicine was showing signs of increasing stability. In April, the American Association of Railway Surgeons selected the journal as its official publication, bringing the total number of associations on board to seven, with more soon to follow. The staff box listed 12 editors, all MDs, in addition to Sappington as consultant and Cloud as managing editor. Showing further growth, the May 1937 issue listed a new eastern satellite office in New York, and, three months later, editorial headquarters in Chicago moved from Rush Street to the more prominent Michigan Ave. In October 1938, the journal listed 15 editors and received the official support of yet another association, now numbering 11 in all.
Even before the end of the 1930s, then, it was clear that Industrial Medicine had beat the odds stacked against it at birth by the Depression. It was already evident that the journal had arrived at just the right time to fill a niche for an industry much in need. As Selleck observes in his study of the industry, "The ups and downs of a single trade journal in the early thirties seem trivial, unless considered in relation to the unusual situation existing at the time. It must be remembered that the medical needs of industry, as distinct from the surgical, were just beginning to be recognized. . . . Many [industrial medicine practitioners] knew relatively little about the respiratory and skin diseases common to certain kinds of employment or about the new toxic hazards that were constantly appearing in industry. With the so-called 'dust diseases' (and particularly silicosis) causing national concern, with compensation suits clogging court calendars and threatening industry with staggering losses, there was a rocketing demand for medical and medicolegal information and opinion".3 Industrial Medicine emerged from its first decade as a leading source for such information and would continue to provide it, even as the country and the rest of the world lumbered headlong into even more unusual, cataclysmic times.
War and Peace in the '40s
Sappington became the journal's first editor-in-chief with the April 1940 issue. Cloud remained managing editor, and an arsenal of 15 editors rounded out the staff. The winds of war were swirling, and the imminent call to arms was evident in the pages of the magazine, especially in its advertisements and editorials. In July 1940, one such (unsigned) editorial broached the matter of national defense saying, "Everybody who works is in the army; industrial production is as vital as the bearing of arms. Loss of working time, particularly as to the workers who are most skilled and thus most difficult to replace, becomes a casualty as disturbing to efficiency as a wound in action. . . . Guarding the workers against preventable disability is front-line service, and the physicians and hygienists who have volunteered to do it are the kind of Americans who do not need uniforms to be patriots."
Similar sentiments were echoed in other editorials for the next several years, expounding primarily on the positive long-term gains the unprecedented demands of defense would have on the fields of industrial medicine come peacetime. Two feature articles appeared in July 1941 on this theme. A particularly fervid editorial titled "Now is the Time" was printed in January 1942, which because of the magazine's production schedule was the first opportunity for editors to comment on the bombing of Pearl Harbor that had happened the previous month. The piece exhorted physicians "to realize that preventive medicine in industry is a necessity in the defense program and is our contribution to victory!"
The July 1942 issue featured a special cover with a flag waving against the magazine's first blue background and the words "United We Stand." Among the issue's contents was an article on "Women and Wartime Health Problems," a theme that had become prevalent and would continue as more men went abroad to fight, leaving women to fill many crucial industrial roles for wartime production. Other feature article examples along this line were "Maternity Care and Employment of Mothers: Standards in Industry" in October 1942, "The Married Woman Worker" in January 1944, and "Suggested Pregnancy Adjustment Plan for Women in Industry" in August 1944, to mention but three.
The transitive influx of women into nontraditional industrial roles was even more prominently reflected in the ads of this time, with everything from products for controlling menstrual problems in the workplace to a personal protective, hard-shell "Saf-t-Bra for women industrial workers." New ads also appeared for a host of contraceptive devices and medications. Perhaps most notable, though--for their sheer abundance if not for the implications for their targeted audience--were the series of cigarette ads, most of them full pages and frequently depicting military physicians lighting up after doffing their surgical masks. The milestone report from the Surgeon General's Advisory Committee was not issued until January 1964, nearly two decades away, but, disturbingly, this magazine was still publishing tobacco ads as late as 1969.
With the August 1941 issue, the journal's executive and publication offices, previously listed as being in Beloit, Wis., joined the editorial team at its office on Michigan Ave. in Chicago. In May 1942, Cloud was listed as publisher rather than managing editor and, more subtly, Sappington began going by simply editor, while the 14 MDs who previously held that title were now listed as associate editors.
In February 1944, Sappington began his monthly "Dr. Pilgrim" column, in which he discussed industry news, conference tidings, and general goings-on. In April 1945, the month that saw the deaths of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Benito Mussolini, and Adolf Hitler, Sappington disclosed in the column that he had received a telegram from the War Department notifying him of the death of his son at the Battle of the Bulge. "You can brace yourself for that message. You can, in a way, be ready," he wrote. "But it rocks you. It takes you off your feet, no matter how firmly they have been planted against it. But there is work to be done. The show has to go on. . . ."
The whole planet would be rocked four months later, with the world-changing events in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August. Under Sappington's direction, Industrial Medicine continued getting the work done, publishing in June 1946 "The Atom Bomb," a seminal piece on the subject by Dr. Stafford Warren, followed by a second article on the Bikini experiment. Other articles on atomic energy and its industrial health implications would follow for years to come, including, notably, Dr. A.F. Lecklider's July 1954 feature, "Industrial Medicine--and Disaster: Atomic Bomb Preparedness," which begins by postulating the effect a single atomic bomb would have if dropped on Detroit.
With the war's end, the journal got smaller, and by mid-1949 a change was afoot with its title; on the covers of the June and July issues, it was called Industrial Medicine and Surgery of Trauma, but by the August issue it was listed as the slightly shorter Industrial Medicine and Surgery, and so it would remain for almost two decades, becoming well known in those years by its initials, IMS.
The journal lost one of its true champions with the sudden death of Sappington on Nov. 6, 1949. A moving obituary by Cloud revealed just how much of a force the editor had been since the publication's inception and how much of its success was owed to his frequently un-bylined work. Under the heading for the "Dr. Pilgrim" column in the December 1949 issue, Cloud wrote, "During the last five years or so the little department titled as above has appeared regularly in these pages. It will not be there any more. Its author has completed his pilgrimage."
The Far-Reaching '50s
In February 1950, Dr. Jean Spencer Felton was named editor of IMS, and Dr. Carey Pratt McCord was listed as consultant editor. Both men had previously been associate editors of the publication, and they, in turn, inherited a cadre of 19 associate editors of their own--MDs all--plus Cloud still as publisher. By October of that year, an editorial announced that IMS was "well and happily committed to a policy of coverage for the entire world of occupational health." Illustrating this commitment, the staff box now included 10 "foreign" (later changed to "overseas") correspondents situated in diverse regions across the globe. Felton resigned in August 1951, leaving McCord to guide the journal.
Throughout the decade, atomic energy and radiation remained the subjects of frequent coverage. Articles and editorials of varying depth on cigarette smoking and cancer also appeared, while the journal nevertheless continued to carry advertising from tobacco companies. The October 1953 issue featured a special "coming of age" section to celebrate the journal's first 21 years; in the section, William H. Seymour of the Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. summed up what many contributors to the magazine had voiced over the years, saying the field of industrial medicine "has grown because the changing social trend created a specific demand and need for it and because management in most cases came to see its intrinsic value in terms of productivity. It should soon be generally recognized as a specialty within the field of medicine." The comments were prescient. Two years later, in 1955, the American Board of Preventive Medicine announced the first-ever certification in occupational medicine; the long-sought news was heralded in the industry and especially in the pages of IMS.
Also in 1955, a standout editorial voiced the magazine's most definitive view to date on the positive risk of lung cancer in asbestos workers. Asbestos had been given some attention early on in the first volume and mention of the hazard had continued intermittently through the years, but until this editorial it had definitely been overshadowed by the journal's exhaustive coverage on silicosis.
A change in the journal's ownership took place in early 1958; by April, Cloud was moved from publisher to editorial consultant. In July, headquarters for the new but similarly named Industrial Medicine Publishing Co. were listed as being in Miami. Editorial output remained seamless during the transition; especially noteworthy were the August issue's "The Automobile Seat Belt: A Factor in Preventive Surgery"; September's "Asian Influenza Immunization Program: Its Effects on Absenteeism"; and December's "The Value of Early Diabetes Detection."
In 1959, the effects of the new ownership became more noticeable. Cloud continued to write regular features on "Profiles in Occupational Health," and, if anything, these pieces were even longer and more involved than in previous volumes. But his work was the exception; otherwise, contributed articles were more concise than previously. True to its title, the magazine continued coverage of medicine, surgery, and toxicology, but its focus on industrial hygiene and occupational hazards was becoming increasingly more prominent, with greater emphasis also centered on the work experience of employees. Long gone, in any case, were the days of the graphically demonstrated surgical procedures that the journal devoted a healthy portion of its pages to in its first two decades. Articles in the May 1959 issue focusing on "The Psychological Aspects of Accident Causation" and "The Effect of Footgear Upon the Energy Cost of Walking" are examples of this shift.
Federal activity in the realm of industrial medicine--or, more accurately now, occupational health and safety--became increasingly evident during the 1960s, as did the journal's continued shift in emphasis toward more worker-centric coverage. This move was subtly encapsulated with the addition of a new tag line below the title on the August 1962 cover--"Devoted to the Conservation of Health in the Worker's Total Environment"--and the shift was blatantly acknowledged, in no uncertain terms, two months later when in the October issue the journal celebrated its 30th anniversary and used the occasion to editorially mandate a new beginning to the whole approach to industrial medicine.
Declaring that the "precepts and concepts that well served to govern the industrial medical programs for the past two generations are now outmoded," IMS editors said the industrial physician now "must move into the total environment, the total community--into all in health that shapes the worker as the worker. The industrial physician must join forces with family and community physicians and the official public health officer, all to the end that the worker may be clothed in added protection against the threats to his health from the total environment."
The mandate espoused a philosophically new approach for the journal, an approach its editors can be seen fulfilling throughout the remainder of the decade with the publication of articles such as "The Impact of Technology and Automation on the Worker: Some Effects of Automation on Industrial and Clerical Workers" in June 1963, "Profitable Employment of the Handicapped" in August 1964, and "Improving the Worker's Emotional Environment" in April 1966. As they had in all previous decades, articles focusing on disability from injuries appeared, but increasingly now the worker was being presented as less the "enemy" of corporate bosses.
Articles on the environment appeared in the '60s more regularly than ever before, focusing predominately on air pollution but also topics such as the effects of microwave radiation and even the bacterial emissions from activated sludge. Presaging things to come--subjects that would help shape the magazine in future years--were articles on computer use in medicine and, in May 1963, "10 Rules for Disaster Preparedness in Industry."
Reflecting the world's fascination with manned space flight, an unprecedented number of articles were printed on related topics such as NASA's health programs, bioastronautics, and astronaut selection. An indication of the new interest appeared early in the decade, in the July 1961 feature "Space Medicine: A New Frontier in Occupational Health Practice." In September 1962, an anonymous article on "Living with Homosexuality" was published, also representing something new.
In May 1963, the journal ran a statement from President John F. Kennedy expressing concern "over the individual tragedies and the economic waste of the Nation's manpower resulting from nearly 14,000 deaths and two million disabling injuries in the workplaces of our country." Deciding it was time for the government to do more, he announced a President's Conference on Occupational Safety to be held in Washington in June 1964. It was an event Kennedy would not attend, of course; after receiving news of the assassination in November 1963, IMS editors responded the following January with sadness and vitriol in two editorials, observing in the calm conclusion of the second, "Every major disaster nurses the seed of progress. Pain and horror at needless suffering is the great stirrer to action. From the evil events in Dallas should spring notable progress."
It would be President Lyndon Johnson who addressed the conference Kennedy had organized. In remarks that were very much in line with IMS editors' 30th anniversary mandate, Johnson told the gathering: "The problems in your field of industrial and occupational safety are many and perplexing. Yet you know two things about those problems: You know, first, that there is no real comparison between the attitudes within industry today and 50 years ago, or 25 years ago, about the safety of the workingman. Second, along with this progress in our attitudes, there has been great progress in our abilities to eliminate the hazards and the dangers and the causes of industrial accidents. So the question today is not whether we can eliminate the cruel costs of the on-the-job injuries and disablements and deaths; it is a question of when."4
Progression toward the landmark legislation awaiting just the other side of the approaching decade was already inevitable; when it arrived, the nation in general and industry in particular would be irrevocably transformed. As a result, IMS would be, too. Before the magazine reached that point, though, it was destined to endure several other changes that would alter its life as a publication forever.
World of Changes
The first change on the horizon for IMS was McCord's retirement in May 1964 after an editorship of 13 years, the longest anyone before or since has held the position. Murray Sanders, MD, of Miami was named the new editor the same month, and he inherited a large staff of seven consultant editors, 14 "Honorary Associate Editors," as they were now called, and 15 overseas editors. Cloud was still listed as editorial consultant and would continue to be through June 1965; in Sanders' first issue at the helm, the magazine devoted a special full page to celebrating Cloud's 80th birthday, announcing him in the headline as the "Father of Industrial Medicine and Surgery."
Sadly, a little more than two years later, in the October 1964 issue, news was announced of Cloud's death on Sept. 2. The journal devoted pages in memoriam, reproducing on one a large plaque AAIPS had given Cloud in 1950 for his exemplary service in making Industrial Medicine the association's official publication. Aside from being the impetus behind the journal's formation and, for many years, the only member of its ever-expanding editorial team who was not a medical doctor, Cloud was, from the beginning, a proponent of the worker-centered principles the journal and the nation was now espousing.
Although Sanders' editorship proved relatively brief, his tenure spanned important years in the development of both the magazine and the country. From his first issue, the magazine featured "Medi-Products" pages, which even more closely resembled today's "Product Showcase" pages than previous efforts. In September 1964 he added the position of "International Advisor" to the staff, and in July 1965 he added the positions "Editor-Toxicology" and "Technical Editor." In his final editor's note, published in the December 1966 issue, Sanders wrote, "Today, whether we admit it or not, we are again engaged in a global fighting war, concentrated at the moment in Vietnam. . . . Again there is a monstrous need for research development and practical use in the field, for new drugs which control facets of disease previously considered exotic but now an everyday occurrence in our civilization as the global telescope becomes smaller and smaller by virtue of incredible conquest of space. . . . How unfortunate it is that the giant steps in saving lives are associated with circumstances which take many lives. Must we destroy so many to save others?"
Chester C. Guy, MD, of Chicago was named editor in January 1967. Well known to the journal's readers for his frequent articles during the preceding 17 years, he was also a consultant editor under McCord and Sanders. Like Sanders, though, Guy's editorship was relatively short. In May 1969, W. Wayne Stewart, MD, of Philadelphia replaced him in the role, and Guy was listed as Editor Emeritus.
The Watershed '70s
The biggest news of the new decade--and perhaps of the whole century, as far as industrial medicine was concerned--came at the end of its first year, when on Dec. 29, 1970, President Richard Nixon signed the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The ramifications of that signing have been part of the contents of every issue of this magazine ever since. But December 1970 was also important to the publication in a far less obvious way, as that was its final issue under ownership of the Industrial Medicine Publishing Co.
The new owner, announced in the first issue of 1971, which did not appear until April, was the similarly sounding Medical Publications for Industry Inc., based in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Stewart was still editor, and, writing in July of the OSH Act's becoming law on April 28, he expressed cautious hope. Recognizing the Act as "the most pervasive legislation of its kind ever enacted" with an impact "on industry and labor [that] defies one's greatest imagination," Stewart requested that the new Secretary of Labor and his representatives "act with good faith and reasonableness in the administration of this Act, and in the discharge of their responsibilities." The verdict of how well those officials had done by decade's end seemed adequately summed up in the headline over an editorial in the magazine's final issue of 1979, declaring, "OSHA: A Partial Success."
Prior to the Act's signing, notable articles in the magazine included the April 1970 issue's "Partnership for Prevention--The Insulation Industry," by Irving J. Selikoff, MD, and August 1970's "The Drug Problem in Industry" by Frederick M. Garfield. Not surprisingly, though, from 1971 on, the contents focused mainly on the new federal mandates. Topics that the magazine had always dealt with were still covered, but now they were being examined anew in light of how OSHA, NIOSH, and the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission were affecting them. New exposure limits, advisory panels, and certifications were topics in virtually every issue.
That said, it should also be noted that as far as the magazine's size was concerned, the early '70s were lean years for the publication, with most issues averaging a mere 30 pages--the least in its long history. The situation did not immediately improve when, in the July/August 1973 issue, yet another new owner was announced: the very similar-sounding Medical Publications Inc., owned by Stevens Publishing Corp. of Northbrook, Ill. Craig S. Stevens was listed as publisher of that issue, beginning a long relationship with the magazine.
Aside from returning the publication to near its geographic roots, Stevens soon implemented changes designed to appeal to and serve the needs of all safety disciplines affected by the OSH Act. Such initial changes included installing Charles R. Goerth as executive editor--the first non-medical doctor to fill the post in the magazine's history--and, more visibly, changing the name of the magazine in 1974 from Industrial Medicine and Surgery to International Journal of Occupational Health & Safety. Proud of the magazine's heritage and wanting to provide continuity with its past, Stevens maintained the volume numbering established in 1932.
By way of introducing the new title and elucidating the new owner's mission, Goerth wrote in the Jan./Feb. 1974 issue, "With OSHA a firm reality and making itself felt in every company, large and small, it is no longer possible for the occupational physician, the occupational nurse, the industrial hygienist and the safety professional to go their separate ways. . . . They must develop ways of sharing their expertise--all aimed at improving the health and safety of workers."
With Volume 45, 1976, the magazine's title was streamlined to Occupational Health & Safety, the name it has published under since. Appearing bimonthly at that point, the issues were still slight by today's standards, but early incarnations of what were to become regular features and sections were being tried out and added. Notable articles from the period focused on prohibiting smoking in the workplace, ergonomics, the effect of materials exposure on pregnancy, and, from the March/April 1976 issue, written by OSHRC member Robert D. Moran, the article "Cite OSHA for Violations," which argued that the agency's standards were not fully living up to the objectives of the legislation and were, in fact, violating the spirit and purpose of the "Safety Act."
At the start of 1978, Stevens moved the company to Waco, Texas, and by the September/October issue that year he was listed as both publisher and editor of the magazine, a dual post he would occupy through January 1981. From then on, a long succession of men and women served as editor of OH&S, each averaging about a year in the post. It would be another decade and half before the magazine had anything resembling the editorial stability of its earlier years. That noted, the near-constant influx of new leadership and talent guiding the magazine likely helped make it the most dynamic publication in the field and set the stage for the eventual permanency that followed.
Ten years after the formation of OSHA, the need for reform was definitely in the air. A plethora of articles dealing with the agency's enforcement activities during the previous decade and the subsequent move toward deregulation now occupied the pages of OH&S. Even more pages were devoted to the subject of "Untangling the Asbestos Mess," as a February 1982 article's headline phrased it. Passage of the Asbestos School Hazard Detection and Control Act in 1980 had instigated public awareness of asbestos as a safety and health concern, but funds for ASHDCA were still a problem. Cover stories and special sections on the topic appeared regularly.
Early in the '80s, the first news items about AIDS began to appear, and as the public's awareness and fears grew so did its frequency as a subject in OH&S. The Bhopal tragedy in 1984 challenged and changed the chemical industry and prompted articles. OSHA's revised hearing conservation amendment in March 1983 led to renewed discussion in the magazine of noise dosimetry and worker exposure; similarly, the agency's HazCom standard in 1986 and industrial helmets standard in 1988 inspired articles on both. Features on wellness programs in the workplace were new, as was OSHA's regulation mandating the use of lockouts during machinery repairs. Smoking and drug use in the workplace, while not new, received frequent attention, as did carpal tunnel syndrome and, more than ever now, ergonomics.
"Engineering Control," a column that D. Jeff Burton, MS, CIH, still writes for the magazine, first appeared in the May 1984 issue. Representative articles from the same year focused on laser protective eyewear and the use of robots in the workplace to perform hazardous and design tasks. In August 1987, Dr. Alexander Strasser, a long-time contributor, wrote his 100th "Health Management" column, a department that would continue to appear intermittently until 1992. "Legal Perspective," another standing column, ran in most issues. A news section and new products pages also began appearing monthly. With the January 1988 issue, Stevens was listed as president, a position he would hold for the next 18 years.
Into the '90s
Articles on the use of computers in the workplace appeared frequently in the 1980s, but in the '90s they were ubiquitous. OSHA reform, the agency's lockout/tagout standard, ergonomics, robotics, asbestos removal, and worker protection from lasers continued to make news, but computers in general and software in particular (as well as the Internet, later in the decade) were discussed repeatedly in every issue. The subject's popularity gave rise to a new column called "Computer Applications," which first appeared in Feb. 1995 and is still one of the magazine's departments. The June 1995 issue featured the first "Management" column, which also still appears monthly. By 1998, Y2K craziness was everywhere, including in the pages of OH&S, notably in a story titled "Y2K, Y-SO-L8? A Last-Minute Primer for EH&S Managers" in October 1999.
The extreme focus on AIDS in the '80s spawned many articles focusing on bloodborne pathogens throughout the '90s. Other subjects appearing frequently during the decade included confined space hazards, behavior-based safety, the workplace implementation of automated defibrillators, and safety incentives.
In February 1995, Stevens Publishing Corp. was listed as the trademark holding owner of the magazine. This did not represent an ownership change, so much as it was a mere labeling issue, because Stevens wholly owned Medical Publications Inc., which was previously listed. The magazine's revolving editorship finally came to an end in November of that year when Stevens hired as editor Jerry Laws, a veteran journalist who brought to the position 15 years of editing and reporting experience at newspapers including USA Today and The Houston Post. Former OSHA compliance officer Linda F. Johnson, MS, ASP, CHMM, CEHS, was hired the same month as technical editor, and together she and Laws brought editorial stability and direction that the magazine had not experienced since the days of Sappington and McCord. This November, Laws will celebrate his twelfth anniversary in the position.
The magazine launched its Web site, www.ohsonline.com, in August 1996. Featuring daily industry news, a job board, free product information, classifieds, an archive of articles, and other tools, the site is today more active than ever. In November 1997, Stevens Publishing relocated its headquarters from Waco to Dallas; the issue of OH&S published that month sported a new, easier-to-read layout that Laws described as "a design for the new millennium."
At the dawn of the new century, OH&S was, as ever, doing its best to focus on all the issues important to safety and health industries; articles appearing early in the first two years covered workplace best practices and the latest innovations in the systems and equipment workers were using, with stories on speech recognition software, online safety training, on-site AEDs, the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act, ergonomics, oral fluid testing, workplace and domestic violence, lockout/tagout, MSDS management, and sundry other topics. It was business as usual. After Sept. 11, 2001, however, the magazine, reflecting the industries composing its audience, was galvanized in a new direction. Post-9/11 issues continued coverage of all the usual subjects, but in addition to those there was suddenly an amplification of stories on emergency alarm systems, evacuation preparedness, biohazard control for mailrooms, airport screening, "white powder" incidents, and all manner of other Department of Homeland Security-related topics.
Readers' interest in and need for information resulting from the 9/11 attacks and the mailed anthrax terrorism that followed prompted the magazine to create a new monthly "First Responder" section, debuting in January 2003. Introducing it to readers, Laws wrote, "We intend to help all of you better prepare for the threats and the opportunities of this new age of anxiety." Among the frequently harrowing articles that have filled the section ever since are "Responding to 'Dirty Bombs'" in September 2003 and "Pandemic Preparedness--Starting Now" in May 2006.
In April 2006, the magazine's ownership changed for the fourth time in its long history when 1105 Media Inc., a new company based in Chatsworth, Calif., acquired Stevens Publishing, ending Craig Stevens' association with the publication after 33 years, a span of time only Cloud before him had reached. Editorial offices have remained in Dallas, and, meanwhile, the magazine goes on.
Brave New World
Last October marked the 75th anniversary of this magazine's Depression-era debut. The accumulated volumes of its life contain a truly massive amount of knowledge and potentially life-saving learning, along with the occasional bit of poetry and underlying history of the times during each was produced. Revisiting the earliest of the volumes, reading firsthand the words of Cloud, Jones, Sappington, and all the contributors, it is striking to see that so many of the topics that were concerning them are still of concern today. Many of the headlines placed over articles that appeared in 1932--"Eye Injuries and the Use of Safety Goggles," "Skin in Industry," "Carbon Tetrachloride: A Non-Technical Discussion of Its Toxicity," "Dust, Fumes, Vapors and Gases"--could easily fit atop stories now, in 2007.
Technology, of course, is a distancer in this regard. Articles on all facets of respiratory protection, for example, are to be found throughout the magazine's history, but only relatively recently would one find coverage in the publication on, say, service life software for organic vapor cartridges (May 2000). On the other hand, an even more recent piece detailing how driving is the most hazardous task for U.S. workers could have appeared at any point since publication began. In many cases, only the particulars--the materials, the regulations, the designs--have changed, but because staying on top of such details is a crucial part of the safety professional's job, it is also a part of this magazine's mission. The same was true 75 years ago, when the nearest semblance of an OHS professional in the workplace was the practitioner of industrial medicine.
This article appeared in the January 2007 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.
- Selleck, Henry B. Occupational Health in America. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1962: 259-260.
- Ibid, 262.
- Ibid, 263.
- Woolley, John and Gerhard Peters. The American Presidency Project [online]. Santa Barbara, CA: University of California (hosted), Gerhard Peters (database), http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=26334.
This article originally appeared in the January 2007 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.