The idea of employee wellness is not new, but it has not always been an $8 billion industry in which employer-subsidized fitness memberships, meditation classes, and catered meals are the norm. In 1864, the Pennsylvania Mine Safety Act was codified into law, promising Pennsylvania mine workers minimal ventilation to help prevent the black lung, and marking the beginning of occupational health legislation in the United States. A few years later, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts put a more proactive plan in motion and became the first state to institute a factory inspection program. By 1891, the federal government had caught on, mandating minimum ventilation requirements in mines across the country, and prohibiting operators from hiring children under the age of 12.

 

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