ALCStudies Journal

Advanced Labor & Cultural Studies Web Site & Blog

Visiting the ‘Safety First’ Exhibit at the Rivers of Steel Heritage Center

On a sunny, windy afternoon I bicycled across the Rankin Bridge over the Monongahela River and spent Saturday, April 11th at the Rivers of Steel Heritage Center in Homestead. There I learned everything I wanted to know about not getting my hands or other extremities folded, spindled or incinerated in a steel mill. Rivers of Steel has an exhibit running at the Bost Building titled Safety First. Curator Tiffani Emig and the staff have done a fine job interpreting the various posters, movies and instructional materials that the steel industry and union in Southwestern PA created to promote safety in the mills from the time of Carnegie up through the 1990s. Of course, manufacturing steel was (and is) inherently hot, dangerous work. Whatever the rhetoric, it’s clear the need for speed and productivity sometimes trumped safety. The posters and films graphically attest to the consequences, and at least the attempts to use humor and effective communication in the mills to reduce accidents. The exhibit is worth a visit. Your voluntary donation will go to help preserve Southwestern Pennsylvania’s steel heritage

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