Between 1885 and 1900, what percentage of Andrew Carnegie's steel workers died on the job annually?

the Economist.
Fatal accidents in the steel mills, he calculates, accounted for 20% of all male deaths in Pittsburgh in the 1880s. Newspaper lists of men killed and wounded each year were as long as a casualty list for a small battle in the American civil war.


"Labor and Steel".
In 1920 the mortality rate in iron and steel was nearly twice the rate in general manufacturing, according to the Prudential Insurance Co. of America.

for laborers the most important occupation aumerically it is more than twice the average.*

The sickness risk in steel is bigger than the accident risk. Excess deaths from pneumonia alone were nearly as numer- ous in the industry in 1929 as all deaths from accidents ; and the severity rate for non-fatal cases of sickness has been higher than the severity rate for non- fatal accidents in the only steel plant which is known to compile sickness severity rates, Middletown plant of the American Rolling Mill Co. 18

What percentage of their work force did they lose annually?

( I chose those dates because they represented to my mind the most dangerous period in one of the most dangerous industries. As labor was loosing what little influence they had and before modest reforms began after 1907. )

  • 1
    Your second source seems to completely lie outside of the specified time frame of the question, and after Carnegie sold his steel business.
    – justCal
    Dec 20, 2017 at 18:25
  • Yes it’s part of the question background not part of the answer.
    – user27618
    Dec 20, 2017 at 18:36
  • 1
    Not an answer, but the Heinz museum in Pittsburgh (yes, the catchup brand) has a section dedicated to self-organized welfare, before there were public welfare. It has pictures such as workers without arms, cared by the nice old lady from the parish. The workers themselves would collect money, and churches and workers unions would organize lists of people in need. This museum could be a nice source of data or references if you are really interested. Would this be more efficient than centralized welfare?
    – Luiz
    Dec 21, 2017 at 12:53
  • That's interesting. I'd like to take a look. Do they have an online presence?
    – user27618
    Dec 21, 2017 at 13:51
  • At least steel mills were not as dangerous as coal mines and lumber jacking. I think it is always interesting to look at alternatives. Jan 2, 2018 at 1:24

1 Answer 1


Steel workers industry wide 1898, 9% died on the job annually. I found this on a history channel production.

From “The Men Who Built America”, S01E07 “Taking the White House”. Counter 00:03:48


90% of Americans survive on less than $100 dollars per month. Average American worker earns barely $1 per day, well below the poverty line. In a single year one out of eleven steel works will die on the job.

  • Watched the same program - the stat sounded non-credible to me, so I came here for a citation... circular so far, which is too bad. Stats need to be calibrated for life expectancy in the period, comparable occupations, cause of death etc. The same program was multiplying $ by ~100 to get modern equivalents, so $100/mth = $10,000 And the point was they were creating modern productivity which is the only cause of wages. Hence Ford being able to pay much higher wages a few years later. 1 in 11 dying in workplace accidents every year seems non-credible.
    – tim
    Aug 3, 2020 at 1:44

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