Most of my articles concern employment at the Hoover Dam, and the occupational health regime established that dealt with the risks posed to worker health.
Employed Americans during the 1930s were only slightly better off than the unemployed. Most were forced to ignore safety standards to maximize production and retain their jobs, subjecting themselves and their coworkers to dangerous working conditions. Six Companies Inc., the main contractor on the Boulder Canyon Project, began the project six months ahead of schedule and was not equipped to protect its workers from the summer heat or provide inadequate housing, sanitary facilities, and medical care. While some employees were miners and cowboys from the western range, most had never experienced hard physical labor in a hot, desert climate. The contractor also authorized the use of gasoline-fueled vehicles underground to construct the diversion tunnels, exposing workers to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Eventually, the considerable health risks forced Six Companies to develop a comprehensive industrial health program, and provide other benefits to maintain a healthy workforce.
The first article, "Why Do So Many Nevadans Die on the Job," is my most recent publication with Zócalo Public Square. Work on the River, provides a lesson plan for teachers interested in teaching this history in their classroom, while the second, Dead Roses and Blooming Deserts, focuses on the dam's medical history, and programs in health, safety, and hygiene.
Turk, Michelle Follette. “Why Do So Many Nevadans Still Die on the Job? Decades after 187 Laborers Perished at the Hoover Dam Construction Site, the State’s Safety Rules Are Out of Sync with Modern Workplaces,” Zócalo Public Square, Jan, 16, 2018.