In the 1930s, the odds were not in a worker’s favor:
On average, one man was killed per million dollars spent on a big project. Joseph Strauss, the designer of the Golden GateBridge wanted to beat those odds, and spent a ton of money on safety. Goofing off was forbidden: “Old Strauss enforced the rules,” Pete Williamson, one of the workers on the bridge, said. “All a guy had to do was to stand out there on one foot, and he was fired.” Workers had to wear glare-free goggles, use hand and face cream to protect their skin from the high winds, and go on special diets that Strauss believed would fend off dizziness. The engineer had the E.D. Bullard Company create special hard hats for the bridge workers, which they were required to wear at all times, and in 1936, Strauss installed a net under the bridge that cost $130,000. The device, similar to what’s strung below the circus trapeze, was manufactured by the J.L. Stuart Company and extended 10 feet wider than the bridge’s width and 15 feet longer than its length; it helped to speed construction while also giving workers a sense of security. It saved 19 men who otherwise would have plummeted into the water below; they were said to belong to the Halfway to Hell Club.