A February 25, 1904, article described a boiler explosion that killed six people. Editors described the event as "disgusting," noting that the accident was the direct result of "the culpable ignorance or the regardlessness of inevitable consequences in connection with the ownership and management of the boiler."
The accident was at a sawmill, which had bought a return tubular boiler that had been condemned by Fidelity & Casualty Co. for "lamination, bulged heads, cracked plates, rivet heats rusted off, and leaking flutes." The new owner put a $15 patch on a laminated spot where an inspector had driven his hammer through and ran the boiler at approximately 85 lb of pressure — 15 lb higher than it had ever been run before.
The boiler blew up after running only a few days. Editors believed this case showed how men, not the boiler, constituted a danger factor. "In most cases of serious accident it appears, after the event, that somebody has been neglectful or reckless, so that we need most of all more careful inspecting and testing of men. . . ."
50 years ago in
A nice place to work
Editors were marveling at fringe benefits offered to employees of the George Fischer works in Switzerland in the February 15, 1954, issue. At the time, the company, in cooperation with another firm, owned and operated a convalescent and rest home. "Not only is sickness taken care of by social service fund, but even legal matters and financial aid for the purchase of a home, furnishings, or heavy debts is provided," wrote the editors.
The company went beyond the call of duty by arranging vacations and skiing expeditions for employees' children, financing college courses, and offering recreational facilities and classes for homemaking and gardening. It also set up theatrical performances, concerts, and social events.
Old ideas still work
In an address to a chapter of the American Society of Tool Engineers, Ralph E. Cross, executive vice president of The Cross Co., Detroit, presented a "Prescription for Prosperity" for the manufacturing sector. An article on his presentation appeared in the February 1, 1954 issue. Cross noted that as competition forces change, companies could only succeed by taking risks involving capital expenditures. He believed modernizing facilities with new equipment could earn more profit than old equipment after all expenses and charges.