Here in the United States, the “Industrial Revolution” did not start until the later part of the 19th Century. This was due, in part, to most people living in rural areas and, essentially, living off the land, as well as massive farms producing food for those people who chose to live in larger cities. While there were some small manufacturers making various products, it was not as large scale as some of the factories found overseas.
However, that was about to change, thanks in part to Henry Ford and the invention of the automobile assembly line. Mr. Ford’s mass production process allowed for a larger number of goods and products to be built at lower costs than in the past. It was not too long before other industries, including clothing, food, and furniture, adapted a mass production model to further industrialize their operations.
In the late 19th Century and early 20th Century, even with the industrialization of the United States, there were some major flaws in mass production factories. At that time, there were no labor laws and standards like we have today—minimum wage laws, child labor protections, and safety requirements.
Rather, anyone who was willing and able to work in a factory would be allowed, including children. It was not uncommon for entire families to work at the same factory for long hours— sometimes 12 to 16 hours a day—and only get paid a few cents per hour. In addition, most laborers were required to wear their own clothing to work. The only exceptions were line foremen and floor supervisors, who often dressed in industrial work uniforms to distinguish themselves from other laborers.
However, things were about to change with America’s entry into World War I. The war effort helped to start to bring about changes in the workplace to make working conditions fairer for employees. Among these, children were no longer able to work in factories the long hours they had in the past. Rather, children were to go to school during the day while their parents worked.
After World War I, the U.S. economy spiraled downward and led to the Great Depression, which lasted from October 29, 1929 to 1939. During this time, factory and industrial jobs were hard to find and there were relatively few changes for those still in business.
Then, in September 1939, Germany invaded Poland and set about the start of World War II (WWII). The United States refrained from entering the war directly, initially, but did commit to sending medical supplies, food, and other aid to the Allied Nations.
Then, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the U.S. entered the war, which helped jumpstart the economy and numerous industrial jobs. Even women contributed to the war effort, with many taking on roles and jobs in factories previously held by men, which also included the wearing work uniforms.
Since WWII, there have been many changes to industrial-type jobs, like the inclusion of specific safety gear as part of the work uniform in some environments. Today, work uniforms are standard in many factories and production facilities. To learn more about work wear and uniforms for your employees, please feel free to contact Prudential Overall Supply at (800) 767-5536 today!