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strated, and the example of the States that have been mentioned was quickly followed by most of the States having a well-developed system of steam railways. At the present time the following 21 States have upon their statute books more or less comprehensive legislation on this subject: Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

The statutes of these States, though differing from each other as regards the comprehensiveness of their provisions, are all of the same general character and relate almost exclusively to the points that have been mentioned. To reproduce them in full would result only in unnecessary duplication and detail. Their scope and character may be fully seen from the following summary:

Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin require all frogs, switches, and guard rails to be securely blocked or guarded in such a way that persons can not get their feet caught in them.

Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, and Ohio make it obligatory upon railway companies to equip certain classes or all of their cars with automatic couplers of such a character that the coupling is accomplished by contact, or at least in such a way that it is not necessary for the employees to go between the cars. These provisions vary considerably in character in the different States, some requiring all cars, both passenger and freight, to be so equipped, while others require only freight cars. In some this requirement relates only to new cars and in others to all cars, a time limit being fixed within which the change from the old to the new system must be made. It is unnecessary to bring out these differences more definitely, as the Federal Government has, as will be seen, fully covered this point in its law which relates to all the States.

Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, and Rhode Island have enacted laws regarding the equipment of locomotives and cars with some system of a power brake that can be operated from the locomotive. Here again the provisions are dissimilar in the different States. The New York law is the most comprehensive. It requires that all locomotives and passenger cars shall be equipped with a power brake, operated from the locomotive, and that freight car's shall be so equipped at the rate of 10 per cent of their number each year, and that by the year 1903 all cars must be so equipped. This feature is also covered by the Federal law, and the State legislation is therefore of but secondary importance.

Kentucky, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Vermont require bridges or other superstructures over railways to be of a certain height above the tracks, to prevent trainmen from being knocked off the cars by them; and Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Virginia require that a warning post, indicating the proximity to a bridge or other superstructure, be placed wherever required.

Massachusetts and Michigan appear to be the only States that have made provision for special railroad inspection, with the duty of seeing that the provisions regarding safety devices are complied with, though probably in all cases the State railroad commissioner can act in this capacity.

There are one or two other provisions contained in the State laws that may be mentioned. Massachusetts requires all cars to be provided with secure “grab irons" or hand holds at the ends or sides of the cars, in order to make the getting on and off of cars more safe; Vermont requires that the ladders leading to the roofs of cars be either inside the cars or at the ends and not on the side of the cars, and Ohio requires that special precautions be taken to render secure all telegraph, telephone, or other wires crossing a railway track, and that they be located at a sufficient height above the track so as not to be a source of danger to the trainmen.

In concluding this summary of State laws it should be said that it would be extremely misleading to suppose that the precautions above described to prevent accidents are only taken when they have been required by law. It is probable that with the exception of the provisions regarding power brakes and automatic couplers such precautions are largely taken. The roads would do so, if for no other reason, because it is probable that their failure so to do would be held by the courts such negligence as to render them liable for damages in the case of any accidents that might have been avoided had these precautions been taken.

It soon became evident that if dependence were placed entirely upon the States to enact legislation requiring the introduction of safety appliances general action would be long delayed, and confusion would result from the diversity of legislative action. By the Constitution the Federal Government is given the power to regulate interstate commerce. The first exercise of this power, as regards railway transportation, was the creation, February 4, 1887, of the Interstate Commerce Commission. The act creating this body made no mention of safety appliances or the protection of employees in any way. The newly created commission, however, immediately urged such legislation, and in consequence of its recommendation there was passed by Congress the law of March 2, 1893. The importance of this law, relating as it does to the whole Cnited States, warrants its reproduction in full. The law constitutes chapter 196 of the acts of 1892–93 and is as follows:

SECTION 1. From and after the first day of January, eighteen hundred and ninety-eight, it shall be unlawful for any common carrier engaged in interstate commerce by railroad to use on its line any

locomotive engine in moving interstate traffic not equipped with a power driving-wheel brake and appliances for operating the train brake system, or to run any train in such traffic after said date that has not a sufficient number of cars in it so equipped with power or train brakes that the engineer on the locomotive drawing such train can control its speed without requiring brakemen to use the common hand brake for that purpose.

SEC. 2. On and after the first day of January, eighteen hundred and ninety-eight, it shall be unlawful for any such common carrier to haul or permit to be hauled or used on its line any car used in moving interstate traffic not equipped with couplers coupling automatically by impact, and which can be uncoupled without the necessity of men going between the ends of the cars.

SEC. 3. When any person, firm, company, or corporation engaged in interstate commerce by railroad shall have equipped a suflicient number of its cars so as to comply with the provisions of section one of this act, it may lawfully refuse to receive from connecting lines of road or shippers any cars not equipped sufficiently, in accordance with the first section of this act, with such power or train brakes as will work and readily interchange with the brakes in use on its own cars, as required by this act.

SEC. 4. From and after the first day of July, eighteen hundred and ninety-five, until otherwise ordered by the Interstate Commerce ('ommission, it shall be unlawful for any railroad company to use any car in interstate commerce that is not provided with secure grab irons or hand holds in the ends and sides of each car for greater security to men in coupling and uncoupling cars.

SEC, 5. Within ninety days from the passage of this act the American Railway Association is authorized hereby to designate to the Interstate Commerce Commission the standard height of draw bars for freight cars, measured perpendicular from the level of the tops of the rails to the centers of the draw bars, for each of the several gauges of railroads in use in the United States, and shall fix a maximum variation from such standard height to be allowed between the draw bars of empty and loaded cars. Upon their determination being certitied to the Interstate Commerce Commission, said commission shall at once give notice of the standard fixed upon to all common carriers, owners, or lessees engaged in interstate commerce in the United States by such means as the commission may deem proper. But should said association fail to determine a standard as above provided, it shall be the duty of the Interstate Commerce Commission to do so, before July tirst, eighteen hundred and ninety-four, and immediately to give notice thereof as aforesaid. And after July first, eighteen hundred and ninety-tive, no cars, either loaded or unloaded, shall be used in interstate traffic which do not comply with the standard above provided for.

SEC. 6. Any such common carrier using any locomotive engine, running any train, or hauling or permitting to be hauled or used on its line any car in violation of any of the provisions of this act, shall be liable to a penalty of one hundred dollars for each and every such violation, to be recovered in a suit or suits to be brought by the United States district attorney in the district court of the United States having jurisdiction in the locality where such violation shall have been committed, and it shall be the duty of such district attorney to bring such suits upon duly verified information being lodged with him of such violation having occurred. And it shall also be the duty of the Interstate Commerce Commission to lodge with the proper district attorneys information of any such violations as may come to its knowledge: Provided, That nothing in this act contained shall apply to trains composed of four-wheel cars or to locomotives used in hauling such trains.

Sec. 7. The Interstate Commerce Commission may from time to time upon full hearing and for good cause extend the period within which any common carrier shall comply with the provisions of this act.

SEC. 8. Any employee of any such common carrier who may be injured by any locomotive, car, or train in use contrary to the provisions of this act shall not be deemed thereby to have assumed the risk thereby occasioned, although continuing in the employment of such carrier after the unlawful use of such locomotive, car, or train had been brought to his knowledge.

This law, it will be seen, made it obligatory upon all railroads engaged in interstate commerce, which include practically all the railroads of the country, to equip their locomotives and cars of every description with approved automatic couplers, and a sufficient number of them with power brakes to insure that trains could be controlled from the locomotive without the use of hand brakes, and to provide all cars with secure hand holds or grab irons in the ends and sides for the greater security of the men in coupling and uncoupling. These provisions applied to existing as well as to future acquisitions of rolling stock, and required that the complete change should be accomplished by January 1, 1898, unless the Interstate Commerce Commission, in virtue of the discretionary power given to it, granted an extension of the time. Such extension has, in fact, been granted to a number of roads, and in consequence the complete equipment of cars with automatic couplers and power brakes is not yet accomplished. The rapidity with which these appliances have been introduced since 1892 is shown in the following statement taken from the report of the Interstate Commerce Commission for the year ending June 30, 1899: NUMBER AND PER CENT OF CARS AND LOCOMOTIVES EQUIPPED WITH POWER BRAKES From the above table it appears that on June 30, 1899, out of a total equipment of 1,412,619 cars and locomotives, the number fitted with power or train brakes was 808,074, or 57.20 per cent, and the number fitted with some form of automatic coupler was 1,137, 719, or 80.5+ per cent. This shows an increase during the year in train brakes of 166,812 and in automatic couplers of 228,145. The increase in equipment (cars and locomotives) during the year was 50,211. Of the number of locomotives and cars assigned to the passenger service, practically all are fitted with the power or train brake. Thus out of a total of 9,894 passenger locomotives, 9,798 are fitted with train brakes, and out of a total of 33,850 passenger cars, 33,393 are fitted with train brakes. With the exception of locomotives the showing is nearly as satisfactory in the case of automatic couplers. Of the 9.894 passenger locomotives, 6,128 are fitted with automatic couplers, and of the 33,850 cars, 32,891 are so fitted. The corresponding statement for freight equipment is as follows: Out of a total of 20,728 freight locomotives, 19,926 are fitted with train brakes and 9,300 with automatic couplers. Out of 1,295,510 freight cars, 730,670 are fitted with train brakes and 1,067,338 with automatic couplers.


Fitted with power


Fitted with automatic couplers.

Year ending June 30

Total cars
and loco-


Per cent
of total

Per cent

1 of total.

1892. 1893. 1891 1893. 1896. 1897 1898 1899..


1, 248, 228
1, 308, 734
1, 313, 570
1, 306, 260
1,333, 599
1,333, 466
1,362, 408
1,412, 619

256, 869
299, 027
330, 992
362, 498
418, 851
808, 074

22. 85
25. 20
27. 75
33. 66
57. 20

244, 334
322, 238
408, 856
515, 583
678, 725

909, 574 1, 137, 719

19.57 24. 62 27. 23 31.30 40.91 50.90 66.76 80.54


In no other department of industry in the United States are equally complete and accurate statistics of accidents to employees available as in that of railway transportation. Beginning with the year 1889 the Interstate Commerce Commission has published in its annual report on statistics of railways returns of all accidents occurring to railway employees in the United States. At the Milan congress in relation to accidents to labor, in 1894, the author, on behalf of the Department of Labor, presented a paper giving a summary of these statistics for the years 1889 to 1893. In the present report it will, therefore, only be necessary to reproduce these tables with the addition of the data for the later years.

There are first given two tables showing for each year of the period 1889 to 1899, inclusive, in the one case the total number of railway employees and the nuniber killed and injured, and in the other the proportion between the total number of employees and the number killed and injured. The information is given separately for the three important groups of employees engaged in operating trains, namely, trainmen; switchmen, flagmen, and watchmen, or those whose work is directly on the tracks; and other employees. In this latter group are included office employees as well as workingmen proper. It is to the first two groups that interest, therefore, mainly attaches.

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