With vast swathes of America’s male population having joined the fighting, the War years saw women filing into factories, shipyards and steelworks to take on what – until then – had been traditionally regarded as ‘men’s work’.
Safety officials decided the country’s newly fledged female labour force needed more than just goggles and gloves to protect them from potential injury as they performed manual tasks.
Recognizing the needs of the newly expanded workforce, officials sought to create special protections for females preforming manual tasks. Wilson Goggles, a Pennsylvania company specializing in industrial safety equipment, created the SAF-T-BRA. The special women’s undergarment, made entirely of plastic, succeeded in the prevention of these certain occupational accidents.
Safety garb for women workers. The uniform at the left, complete with the plastic “bra” on the right, will prevent future occupational accidents among feminine war workers. Los Angeles, California, ca. 1943.
Line up of some of women welders including the women’s welding champion of Ingalls [Shipbuilding Corp., Pascagoula, MS], 1943.
Women employed at Savannah Quartermaster Depot, Savannah, Georgia, ca. 1943.
Women war workers of Marinship Corp, 1942.
Like girls from Mars are these “top women” at U.S. Steel’s Gary, Indiana, Works. Their job is to clean up at regular intervals around the tops of twelve blast furnaces. As a safety precaution, the girls wear oxygen masks, ca. 1940-1945.
A group of women prepare to take over maintenance responsibilities for aircraft, ca. 1940-1945.
Chippers in a shipyard, 1942.
Mechanical helper, Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, ca. 1940-1945.