When safety was subversive

April 23rd, 2013 by Julie Ferguson

In 1980, OSHA produced a film about its origins, talking about the rights of workers to a safe workplace. A few year’s later, Thorne Auchter, head of OSHA under Ronald Reagan, recalled and destroyed copies of the film. He also banned it, but a few union officials kept hidden copies. The penalty for being discovered in possession of one of these films was losing all OSHA funding for their safety and health programs. Other documents and films depicting workers who suffered the effects of lax safety were also banned as being “too inflammatory.”
Jordan Barab talked about Auchter’s safety censorship and OSHA funding cuts, as well as the later turn of events – both tragic and ironic – when Auchter’s own 22-year-old son, Kevin Campbell Auchter, was killed on the job during the demolition of two silos at the Monterey Coal Co. in Missouri.
Watch the film that OSHA banned.

This film was preserved through the years through the efforts of Mark Catlin, who made this and other censored OSHA films available for digitizing. See more videos at Mark Catlin’s excellent Historic Workplace & Environmental Health and Safety Films channel on YouTube.