At the turn of the century, workers often toiled for 60 to 70 hours a week. The work in the factories and on the assembly lines was repetitious, and often physically demanding. Many labourers were seriously, sometimes fatally, injured due to faulty equipment, poor safety measures or human error. The labour movement eventually succeeded in convincing the government that employers needed to improve the situation and, as a result, the government appointed factory inspectors, who ensured that certain standards were maintained.

Although the introduction of inspectors did improve factory conditions and reduce the number of incidents of worker abuse by employers, accidents continued to occur, as shown by these reports from Ontario inspectors in 1899.

Right leg hurt by revolving shaft.

Reaching under table left arm cut off by saw.

Right thumb cut off by circular saw.

Arm burned by molten iron; he stumbled.

Three fingers, left hand, cut off by shaper.

Fell down elevator shaft.

Killed by bursting cylinder of hair picker.

Scalded; seated on edge of vat and fainted.

Eyes burned while pouring babbit metal.

Arm torn; caught in set screw of a reamer.

Forearm cut; lifted planer top, sleeve caught in knives, drew in arm, severely cut it.

Caught in belt and wound around shaft. Died five hours after accident.

Rested gun on his knee in firing it up smoke stack to remove soot. Recoil broke his leg.

Nose and forehead slightly cut by shuttle flying from loom (woman).

Fell on a circular saw in motion. Killed instantly; had only worked three weeks in a mill.

Two fingers on right hand jammed between picking cam and loom beam head (woman).

Excerpts from: Twelfth Annual Reports of the Inspectors of Factories from the Province of Ontario, 1899.

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