Henry John Spooner.

Industrial fatigue in its relation to maximum output online

. (page 1 of 5)
Online LibraryHenry John SpoonerIndustrial fatigue in its relation to maximum output → online text (page 1 of 5)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Industrial Fatigue


Maximum Output






Mr. J. R. CLYNES, M.P.

Price 6d. net.

Published by Co-partnership Publishers Ltd.,
6, Bloomsbury Square, London, W.C. 1.

Reprinted by the

Labour Co-partnership Association

from "Co-partnership,"

December, 1916-~May, 1917.


A Journal of Go -partnership
in Industry and Housing.

Monthly Id. Annual Subscription

Post Free Hd, 1/6.

6, Blooms bury Square, W.C. 1.






M.I.MECH.E., M.lNST.A.E., A.M.lNST.C.E., F.G.S., HoN.M.J.lNST.E.,











With Forewords by


(Chairman of Messrs. Hadfields, Ltd.) -

Mr. J. R. CLYNES, M.P.

(District Secretary of the National Union of General Workers
and Member of the Government Reconstruction Committee
and of the Health of Munition Workers' Committee).




I HAVE much pleasure in writing a few words with
regard to Professor Spooner's able contribution on
" Industrial Fatigue in its Relation to Maximum
Output." The articles deal with a wide range of
problems that are of importance in relation to pro-
duction, industrial efficiency, and the well-being of the

As to the advantage of restricting the number of
working hours and abolishing Sunday work, my own
firm; Messrs. Hadfields Limited, Sheffield, have for the
past twenty-three years adopted a 48 working hours'
week and have found it a decided advantage. Indeed,
we could not for a moment think of going back to the
old working hours. As an ounce of practice is worth
much theory, the above statement, I trust, will carry
conviction with it.

Further, I may explain that during the early part
of the War, owing to great pressure of work, our indus-
trial establishment, employing some 15,000 hands,
never shut down except for a few days ; that is, except-
ing one or two holidays, we ran clean through for
eighteen months without a stop from Monday morning
until Sunday night : but it did not pay. For the last
few months, and with the permission of the. Ministry
of Munitions, we have knocked off Sunday work, the
result being that our output has been equally as great.
I think this is a remarkable proof of the inadvisability
of employing non-stop and overtime methods.



I notice on page '37 reference is made to the work of
Mr. Frederick W. Taylor, the American Investigator
and Engineer. I knew the late Mr. Taylor, and a most
able man he was. But I am bound to say that I do
not believe in all that the American System of " Scientific
Management " apparently stands for, as it strikes me
that a feature of it is that it tends to make the workman
into a machine when after all he is a human being. It
is true that Taylor's system of Scientific Management
has made considerable headway in the United States,
but apparently it has recently received a check, as I
read only a few days ago in " Iron Age/' the leading
American Iron and Steel publication :

" In spite of the extraordinary showing made by
the reports to the Ordnance Bureau of the demoralis-
ing effect of abolishing scientific shop management
in the arsenals, the House Committee has again
included in the Army Bill the prohibition of time
studies and premium or bonus payments. In view
of the action taken by the Senate, which accepted
this prohibition as a feature of the Fortifications
Bill, it may be assumed that all the National Defence
Bills, as finally enacted, will forbid the use of scientific
shop management systems."

It is true this paragraph talks about the demoralising
effect of abolishing Scientific Shop Management. On
the other hand legislative abolition such as mentioned
can hardly have taken place, so it seems to me, without
the efforts made having practically failed to give general
satisfaction. Whilst I believe in the argument of a proper
day's work for a proper day's pay, and in the adoption
of improved methods that eliminate unnecessary fatigue,
I am strongly opposed to any attempts being made in
the direction of driving the workers.

I regret great pressure upon my time prevents a
longer contribution, but would again state how much
I have been interested in considering the very instruc-
tive articles contributed by Professor Spooner.




THESE articles are the work of a trained hand. They
are the product of a skilled and sympathetic observer.
They are a practical contribution to the solution of
problems which may never be solved to everyone's
satisfaction, but which must be better handled after
the War than before it.

To the conclusions of Professor Spooner, I would
state three outstanding impressions which have remained
in the minds of workmen. When changes have been
proposed to secure increased output, workmen have
felt certain that such changes would mean reduced wage
rates, and their certainty rested upon experience.
They were confident that the more they produced the
sooner they would be unemployed, and they found
results in some occupations to support this view. They
had a natural objection to being made the mere instru-
ments for certain unknown material ends which would
give greater gain to others than they themselves derived.

It will be difficult to diminish, not to say dispel,
these natural impressions which a few generations of
industrial experience have engendered. It will not do
to try and reduce the conditions of fatigue in order
that workmen should be able to produce more. That
will be one of the results, but to set it up as an object
would be fatal for the main purpose, and would arouse
even greater discontent than conditions of fatigue may
now provide.

The workman does not look with favour upon methods
designed scientifically to speed him up in order that,
without making him either a more skilled workman
or a more contented human being, he should be a more
effective producer of marketable goods. The human
machine works to limitations not applying to other
machinery. Other machinery should be regulated by
the limits of human capacity : instead of men being
driven more and more to a point beyond their normal
physical powers.

Experience in the early months of the war of extensive
munition production showed that long hours, excessive
overtime, and laborious week-end work, were not a con-
tribution to increased output, and had the harmful result
of causing excessive illness and in many cases, serious
and wasteful breakdown of health. In not a few of the
cases of industrial disturbances and stoppages, a con-
tributory cause to men ceasing work has been a state
of physical exhaustion and inevitable indifference to
whatever might happen.

Increased production is all important, but it should
be secured with two other conditions. One is that
fair share of the increased rewards should go to the
producer : and the other is that the producer himself
must be regarded as a man first, and a workman after-
wards. Both as human being and wealth producer he
would be all the better for treatment in the spirit of
the suggestions and proposals of Professor Spooner.



THE articles republished in the following pages were
written in November, 1916, in response to an invitation
from the Editor of Co-partnership to give my views on
the subject of " Industrial Fatigue " for publication
in his journal. In thinking over the matter it appeared
to me that, at this vital juncture, I could profitably
attempt a discussion of fatigue problems from the
standpoint of production. As a diligent student of
psychology and of the science of industrial engineering
I have for years lost no opportunity of increasing my
knowledge of the working of the human machine, and
have endeavoured to profit by the investigations of
others. Wherever such investigations have been
referred to in these pages I believe I have acknowledged
my indebtedness. The researches which have been
carried out since 1914 have considerably increased our
knowledge of an important and fascinating subject;
for we must agree with Pope, that " the proper study
of mankind is man." We must not forget that the
child is father of the man. So we should begin with
the child, and in training him in all the stages to
become a contented, happy, capable and useful citizen,
see that in becoming efficient he does not suffer from
unnecessary fatigue. Every educationist knows how
much patience it requires to recall vagrant inattention
and to stimulate sluggish indifference. And we shall
never attain a high degree of educational and industrial
efficiency until we give more study to the psychology
of attention. If attention be deep and long-continued it
is very fatiguing, and not a little of the absence of order
in class work of all kinds is due to that last physical
condition exacted by attention which physiologists
have called dynamogeny,* that is, " the power which

*Dictionaire ency eloped, des Sciences Medicates.

certain parts of the nervous system possess of suddenly
evoking an augmentation of activity, through a purely
dynamic influence/' Dr. Montessori and Sir Baden
Powell understand the psychology of children and
young people and the importance of incentive. Hence
their phenomenal success in harnessing the activities
of children in the cause of education and good

Forewords have most kindly been written by Sir-
Robert A. Hadfield, a great and humane Captain of
Industry, and by Mr. J. R. Clynes, a patriotic and
statesmanlike representative of Labour. I greatly
appreciate these, and they will, I am sure, be read with
interest. Although these sympathetic and critical
introductions will speak for themselves, I feel that a
remark or two touching them may be permitted. It
is a happy omen for the future that when improved
methods of production are discussed the first to fear
that they may tend to overstrain the workers are, not
the workers themselves, but some of the most respected
representatives of Capital. Thus from the expressed
opinions of such ideal employers as Sir Robert Hadfield
and Sir William Lever, these pioneers of improved
working conditions of Labour might conceivably refrain
from the adoption of a system that has great poten-
tialities if it appeared to them to possibly embody
methods that are inimical to the well-being of the
workers. But in at least one development of improved
methods there is often some misapprehension. For
instance, by suitable camera work most manipulative
operations can be simplified and improved, in such a
way as to reduce fatigue at the same time. As a single
example, there is presumably one right way of mani-
pulating the ordinary chipping hammer, but many
wrong and fatiguing ways, but who has ever heard of
anyone trying to find out the least fatiguing way of
handling this simple tool ? We must pay more atten-
tion to animal mechanics, if we are to humanise the
exhausting operations of our workers ; and those who
may doubt the wisdom of employing motion studies to

relieve the worker and increase his output would do
well to read a convincing letter from Mr. Frank
Gilbreth, the great industrial efficiency engineer, which
appeared in The Engineer of the 4th May, 1917.

On April 2oth, Mr. Michael Longridge delivered his
presidential address before the Institution of Mechanical
Engineers. The retiring President, in introducing him,
referred to him as the greatest master in the country
of the pathology of steam machinery. The address was
so fine and so convincing, and touched upon so many
points that are of living interest to employers and
employed in connection with our subject that I cannot
refrain from quoting him, particularly as his great
^authority so strongly fortifies many of the views I have
endeavoured to establish. Dealing with Workshop
Organisation, he said :

" Except in a few cases, workshop organisation here has
not received the attention given it in America and Germany.
There are still shops without definite planning of the progress
of the work, without adequate equipment of jigs and gauges,
and without standard shapes of tools or a tool-room : where
men drift about in search of tools and tackle, or wait in idle-
ness for drawings or materials ; where machinery is obsolete
and light so bad that good work could not be done if the
machinery were up-to-date. Such shops must go. They
cannot compete in price or quality of work with those in which
what is known as " scientific management/' or anything
approaching it, prevails ; where the progress of every job is
planned to the last detail before it is sent into the works ;
where machinery is so arranged that each piece passes through
the whole series of operations to be performed on its pre-
determined order and without pause, and is immediately
succeeded by another piece to undergo the same cycle of
operations ; where labourers and tackle for fixing the work
are ready the moment they are wanted ; where drawings,
gauges and tools properly ground to standard shapes come
with the work ; where cleanliness, light and comfort reign,
and where endeavour is made to get the workman to regard
his work more as a problem to be solved than a task to be got

Mr. Clynes, as a Parliamentary representative of
Labour and as District Secretary of the National Union
of General Workers, is exceptionally well qualified to
voice the views and feelings of our workers, and his


able, restrained, convincing and human remarks on
the attitude of Labour in relation to some of the
problems discussed in these pages will surely be read
with sympathetic interest. Indeed, they tempt me to
again refer to Mr. Longridge's Address, in which he
suggests that employers also should consider how far
limitation of output and objections to piece-work, two
of the most serious causes of difference with the
Unions, are due to their own short-sighted policy in
cutting Piece-work Rates. He said :

"The case has been very plainly put by Mr. Barnes, M.P.
' The system/ he says, ' has been a failure because, in the
stress of competition, piece-work earnings have tended . to
slide downwards to what previously had been a time-work
wage.' Indeed, it would almost seem to have been an article
of economic religion that a workman's earnings should be
limited by precedent. And thus we go on in a vicious circle,
the master unable to increase wages because the workman will
not give the necessary output, the workman limiting the
output because the master does not raise the pay."

The attainment and maintenance of peace between
master and man is of such paramount importance to
the State and the Empire that I cannot apologise for
quoting in conclusion Mr. Longridge's eloquent perora-
tion, which reached a lofty plane of fervid patriotism
and was received by a representative and influential
meeting with the greatest enthusiasm. He said :

" You cannot drive 2,000,000 trade unionists, but you can
\ educate and persuade them. ' In a national crisis men should
think more of what they could give than what they were
likely to get,' said a great Labour leader to the Manchester
Trade Union Congress only three months ago. Can we not
act upon his words the time is ripe ? We stand to-day upon
a peak of circumstance uplifted by the war, our eyesight
cleared by common peril, our sympathies unsealed by common
pain. Behind us are the dark days of the past, before us on
the far horizon is the new industrial world. Can we not turn
our backs upon the night and march in faith, in -hope, in
charity, towards the dawn the dawn of a new day when
England shall be Merrie England in the noblest sense, wherein
employer and employed shall live in peace and work together
for the glory of their native land ? "

May I4th, 1917.





Output not necessarily proportional to the hours worked 13

Official Investigations Relating to Fatigue . . . . 15

Overtime and Sunday Work . . . . . . 1 7

Psychology and Fatigue . . . . . . . . 1 8

Wide Range of Factors in Physiological Investigations . . 18

Definition and Causation of Fatigue . . . . 19

Man-power, or the Labouring Power of a First-class Man 21

Relation of Work done and Internal Work of the Human

Machine . . . . . . . . . . ' 2

Rest from Fatiguing Labour. Weber's and Taylor's

Laws . . . . . . . . . . 22

The most Efficient Length of Working Day . . . . 23

Experiments on Shortening the Hours of Labour

(Balancing) . . . . . . . . . . 24

Two Shifts versus Three Shifts . . . . . . 25

The Five Hours Spell . . . . ' . , . . 26

Effect of Interest or Incentive on Output . . . . 26

Unnecessary Fatigue in its Relation to Output . . 27

Trifling Matters may Cause Fatigue . . . . 29

High Cost of Materials due to Wasteful Methods . . 29

The Science of Shovelling . , . . . . . . , 30

The Efficiency Engineer and the Economy of Scrapping 30

Dilution and Sub-division of Labour . . . . 31

Reclassification of Trades . . . . . . . . 32

Typical Scheme of Reclassification . . . . v . . 32

Management, Traditional and Scientific . . . . 3 .

Restriction of Output . . . . . . . . 35

Remedy for Restriction . . . . . . . . 35

Scientific Methods in Management . . . . . . 36

A Secret of Germany's Remarkable Industrial Progress 37

Marvels of Waste Prevention. Increased Output by

Less Work . . . . . . . . . . 38



A Motion Study . . . . . . . . . . 39

Hope for Disabled Soldiers . . . . . . 40

The Two Methods of Attacking the Problem of Disable-
ment . . . . . . . . . . 40

Use of Time Studies in Increasing Output . . . . 42

Iron Plate Punching Timed . . . . . . 42

Speeding Up Machine Tools . . . . . . 43

The Importance of Efficient Welfare Work . . . . 44

The Housing Question . . . . . . . . 45

Welfare Supervision . . . . . . . . 46

The Duties of Welfare Supervision . . . . . . 46

Desirable Additions to the Above . . . . . . 47

Economic Loss due to the Mobility of Labour . . 50

Labour Turnover . . . . . . . . . . 50

Employment Departments . . . . . . . . 5 T

Inefficient Labour . . . . . . . . . . 52

Hasty Discharges of Workmen . . . . . . 52

The Labour Turnover Problem . . . . . . 53

Scientific (or Methodical) Management . . . . 54

Elements of Scientific Management . . . . . . 54

After the War Problems . . . . . . . . 5 ;

Unlimited Industrial Expansion . . . . . . 56

Urgent Problems Awaiting Solution . . . . 57

Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . 57

Industrial Fatigue in its Relation
to Maximum Output.

By Professor SPOONER, C.E., M.I.Mech.E., F.G.S.

The question as to what number of hours a week an
employee should work to enable him to produce the
largest output without injurious fatigue, is a pressing
one of paramount national importance ; the problem
is one that is more easily enunciated than solved, as
its solution in any given case depends upon a fairly
wide range of factors, in addition to the personal
element. Now, if the problem involves difficulties in
the case of an individual, it becomes complex in the
case of a body of men engaged on the same class of work,
and still more complicated in a works where a large
range of operations and processes widely differing in
character is carried out, as we shall see hereafter.

The question at issue has been growing in importance
since the outbreak of war, and it has brought to the
front the extremely important subject of industrial
fatigue, indeed, the war has caused us to give more
attention to fatigue during the past two years than it
received from us during the preceding half century.

Output not necessarily proportional to
the Hours Worked.

The urgent call for shells and still more shells,
indeed, for munitions of all kinds, led to workers being
called upon to labour very long hours, and in a large
proportion of cases seven days a week, but, after a
time it was found that the output was far from being
proportional to the number of hours per week worked ,
particularly when the hours were much above the
normal, and that in a fairly large proportion of cases
there was an abnormal amount of time lost through


illness and other causes. A state of things that cer-
tainly might have been foreseen, having regard to the
conditions under which a great deal of the work was
done, especially in old-fashioned factories, large numbers
of which exist in our manufacturing centres, in the
London area in particular, works that have been
gradually extended in many cases by the addition of
adjacent premises or houses ; and there are also a
great many works that have been rapidly improvised
or converted to enable them to be utilised for the pro-
duction of munition work ; the invariable characteristics
of such shops are abnormal noise, bad lighting, and
inefficient ventilation and heating ; in fact, practically
most of the causes of unnecessary fatigue, or fatigue
that is not directly due to work done ; and in some cases
the conditions under which work is done are even still
more injurious to health. A case in point might be
cited that is typical of far too many in this country ;
the writer on visiting an important old factory in
London that was engaged on munitions, was made
very sad by seeing a poor anaemic looking fellow working
at an emery buff in a cellar-like place, in which the
lighting was bad, and in which no provision was made
for the withdrawal of the deadly emery and brass dust
thrown off from the wheel ; indeed, there was prac-
tically no circulation of air. Now, this was not a case
of a grasping unfeeling employer conducting his busi-
ness with an utter disregard for the well-being of his
employees, as the manager, an intelligent and able
man (earning 1,500 a year) is thought well of by the
workers : it is rather a case of ignorance in such matters
and want of imagination, and it was only necessary to
call his attention to the danger to receive a promise
that it would be attended to. It might well be asked
what were our Factory Inspectors doing to allow work
to be done under such unhygienic and fatiguing con-
ditions ? The answer of course is that they are doing
all that is humanly possible, but the ground to be
covered is so enormous that if we had ten times their
number it is doubtful whether there would be enough

of them to periodically inspect all our workshops and
factories that now need attention and advice ; valuable
advice that is freely given to employers and workers
by these devoted servants of the Home Office. Indeed,
the State is well served by their paternal efforts to
conserve the health, safety and life of our industrial-
workers ; but, strangely enough, the workers them-
selves do not always follow the good advice given them
by the rules of their shops and by the Inspectors in
matters relating to fatigue and health, particularly
when poisonous vapours or gases and harmful dust are
concerned. Nor apparently do they appeal to the
Inspector when the Factory Acts have not been com-
plied with by their employers.

Fortunately, during the past decade or two many
such unsatisfactory works as we have referred to above
have been transplanted to the outskirts of the London
area in increasing numbers with the greatest advantage
to all concerned ; indeed, some of the worst cases the
writer can remember are now, after the works have
been removed to country districts, perfect models of
what industrial works should be for the welfare of the
workers, and from nearly all points of view ; as in their
lofty, clean, well-lighted, efficiently heated and ven-
tilated shops an atmosphere exists that is inimical to
unnecessary fatigue.

But the elimination of unnecessary fatigue in indus-
trial operations involves many other important matters
that must be considered, and we may now give some

1 3 4 5

Online LibraryHenry John SpoonerIndustrial fatigue in its relation to maximum output → online text (page 1 of 5)