OH&S Celebrates 90 Years of Service to the Occupational Health and Safety Community

Believe it or not, Occupational Health & Safety is 90 years old. As a celebration of this milestone, I thought it only necessary to look back on the formation of the publication as well as explain how OH&S plans to use this year to review some of the most important health and safety topics throughout the last 90 years.

In 1932, the first issue of OH&S was born, but it wasn’t named OH&S just yet. Back then, before the OSH Act and the formation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the publication was titled Industrial Medicine. The title was a fitting description of what then editors Arthur David Cloud and Dr. Clarence Olds Sappington wanted the magazine to educate readers on: the health and safety of workers from a physician’s perspective.

Cloud, a Chicago area attorney who was passionate about workers’ rights, had recently created a publication called Industrial Relations which tackled topics like pension systems, bonuses, welfare policies and profit-sharing plans. Later, when Cloud met Sappington, the 1932 director of the National Safety Council's Division of Industrial Health, they agreed together that the health and safety of workers should have its own specialized publication to give workers a more advanced understanding of their own health from a physician’s standpoint.

The inaugural editorial, "The Industrial Physician," was essentially a manifesto from Cloud. 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."

Ninety years later, the mission of Industrial Medicine, renamed in 1974 to Industrial Medicine and Surgery to International Journal of Occupational Health & Safety and streamlined later in 1976 to Occupational Health & Safety, has never changed. Throughout some of the largest milestones in history advocating for the safety and health of workers, OH&S has diligently reported on and impacted the education of safety professionals for decades.

It probably never occurred to Cloud or Sappington that the magazine would stretch on for nearly 100 years, but the need for information on worker health and safety is still as essential to businesses and organizations around the country in 2022 as it was in 1932. To that end, OH&S will be dedicating one article in each issue of 2022 to review the history of some of the most important topics that are still relevant to worker safety today. In this issue, it is only fitting that we take a look at the formation of OSHA and the OSH Act that started the regulation of worker safety and health. Find that article on page XX.

This article originally appeared in the February 1, 2022 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

About the Author

Sydny Shepard is the former editor of Occupational Health & Safety.

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