Please note

Because of the lack of published trowel and masonry tool histories, the information here is based on other sources that may be less reliable and certainly are incomplete. These include eBay and tools that I purchase myself that are the starting points for my research. I will write what I know as I learn it. If what you read here interests you, please check back often and look for revisions and corrections. Scanned catalogs are either mine or by Rose Antique Tools and used with permission, and are on Google Docs as pdf files. A few are links to other websites. Your photos and information are welcome. Please click on any picture to enlarge it. Comments are welcome, but any with links will be deleted as possible spam.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Early Safety Equipment in the Masonry Trades

The Granite Cutters' Journal, 1909
Safety equipment is often an afterthought, but by the late 1800s increasing mechanization in all industries made safety equipment more necessary. Trades which had been performed by households or small groups using hand tools were now done by many people at greater speed with machines. This greatly increased the incidence of injuries and the motivation to reduce them. In the bricklaying, quarrying, stone masonry, tile, and foundry molding trades, common injuries were to eyes, lungs, hands, knees, feet, and from falls. Responding to demand, in the late 1800 businesses began to make safety goggles and dust masks. Later products included knee pads and steel-toed shoes.

A Reference Handbook of the Medical Sciences, 1910
The earliest reference I found to stone cutter's safety goggles is 1886. These safety goggles had lenses made of mica (isinglass), which would not shatter like glass, and 360-degree side shields. Lenses had to be replaced frequently because of scratching. Early safety spectacles had thick glass lenses. Walter King of Julius King Optical Co. of Cleveland, Ohio, developed tempered glass lenses in the 1910s. Other early US safety glasses manufacturers included American Optical, Bausch & Lomb, Duralite, NASO, and Willson.

Early protective gear also included bricklayer's finger tape and leather knee pads, both sold by Goldblatt Tool Co.
King safety glasses

Duralite safety goggles
Goldblatt leather knee pads, felt lined

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