Resources and Books


OSHA: Occupational Safety and Health Administration
NIOSH: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
ELCOSH: Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety and Health
Death on the Job 2018: The AFL-CIO’s must-have resource for everything you every wanted to know about the state of workplace safety and health in the United States


  • Alice Hamilton: A Life in Letters: Letters of Alice Hamilton, a pioneer in the study of diseases of the workplace, a founder of industrial toxicology in the United States, and Harvard’s first woman professor.
  • American Prison: A Reporter’s Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment, Shane Bauer. Bauer describes conditions in America’s privately run prisons where corporations cut corners on the safety of prisoners and corrections officers, skimp on training and don’t pay enough to keep quality staff.
  • Deceit and Denial, Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner. Details the attempts by the chemical and lead industries to deceive Americans about the dangers that their deadly products present to workers, the public, and consumers.
  • Diseases of Workers, Bernardino Ramazzini: Originally published in 1700 (not a typo) by the the true father of workplace safety and health.
  • Doubt is Their Product, David Michaels: Michaels reveals how the tobacco industry’s duplicitous tactics spawned a multimillion dollar industry that is dismantling public health safeguards and how product defense consultants have increasingly skewed the scientific literature, manufactured and magnified scientific uncertainty, and influenced policy decisions to the advantage of polluters and the manufacturers of dangerous products.
  • Dying to Work, Jonathan D. Karmel. Karmel offers readable, powerful human stories of workplace injuries and illnesses, and well-presented arguments for addressing these issues.
  • Exploring the Dangerous Trades, Alice Hamilton, the autobiography of the mother of occupational safety and health.
  • Failure to Learn: The BP Texas City Refinery Disaster, Andrew Hopkins: The causes of a major explosion at the Texas City Oil Refinery on March 23, 2005, that killed 15 workers and injured more than 170 others.
  • Ghost Map, Steven Johnson: A thrilling historical account of the worst cholera outbreak in Victorian London, and a brilliant exploration of how Dr. John Snow’s solution revolutionized the way we think about disease, cities, science, and the modern world.
  • Inviting Disaster, James Chiles: a riveting investigation into the causes and often brutal consequences of technological breakdowns. Insights into the increasingly frequent machine disasters that haunt our lives.
  • Janesville, Amy Goldstein: An intimate account of the fallout from the closing of a General Motors assembly plant in Janesville, Wisconsin, and a larger story of the hollowing of the American middle class.
  • The Jungle, Upton Sinclair. The original American novel about working conditions facing American workers — many of them immigrants — in the early part of the 20th century. A classic.
  • Life’s Work: A Fifty Year Photographic Chronicle of Working in the U.S.A., Earl Dotter. This book contains 500 of Earl’s photographs of working Americans. Buy several.
  • The Man Who Hated Work and Loved Labor, Les Leopold: The life of the late Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers Union leader who’s struggle to address the unconscionable toxic exposure of tens of thousands of workers led to the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and included work alongside nuclear whistleblower Karen Silkwood. His noble, high-profile efforts forever changed working conditions in American industry–and made him enemy number one to a powerful few.
  • New Jack, Ted Conover. Conover, a journalist and university professor, recounts his experience of learning about the New York State correctional system by becoming a correctional officer for nearly a year.
  • Normal Accidents,  Living with High-Risk Technologies, Charles Perrow,   provides a detailed analysis of complex systems from a sociological perspective.
  • The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of Americas Shining Women, Kate Moore, This is the tragic story of the girls who contracted radiation poisoning from painting watch dials with self-luminous paint.
  • Pain and Prejudice: What science can learn about work from the people who do it, by Karen Messing. For decades, Messing has studied cases of workers around the world-factory workers, cleaners, checkout clerks, bank tellers, food servers, nurses, teachers-suffering and in pain without any help from the very scientists and occupational health experts whose work was supposed to make their lives easier.
  • Poisoned City Flints Water & the American Urban Tragedy, by Anna Clark. The first full account of the Flint, Michigan, water scandal, an American tragedy, with new details, from Anna Clark, the award-winning Michigan journalist who has covered the story from its beginnings.
  • Rise gonna rise: A portrait of southern textile workers, Mimi Conway
  • Refinery Town, Steve Early: A chronicle of the fifteen years of successful community organizing that raised the local minimum wage, defeated a casino development project, challenged home foreclosures and evictions, and sought fair taxation of Big Oil in a town that was home to one of the largest oil refineries in the state, suffering from poverty, pollution, poorly funded public services, one of the highest homicide rates per capita in the country and a jobless rate twice the national average.
  • What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis Resistance and Hope in an American City by Mona Hanna Attisha. From the heroic pediatrician who rallied a community and brought the fight for justice to national attention comes a powerful firsthand account of the Flint water crisis–a dramatic story of failed democracy and inspiring citizen advocacy and action.
  • The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life of Frances Perkins, Kirsten Downey: Biography the woman named Secretary of Labor by Franklin Roosevelt in 1933, the first woman cabinet member, who spearheaded the fight to improve the lives of Americas working people while juggling her own complex family responsibilities.

Note: Most of the books link to new hard or soft cover copies at Powells, a unionized bookstore in Portland. (And where I get a very small percentage of sales via this blog.)

Where Powells doesn’t carry, I’ve linked to Amazon. You may be able to get used or cheaper copies on the Powells’ site or elsewhere. Some are out of print. That’s why God made the internet. Good luck.

February 22, 2017