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Melting Glass and the Workers

Monday, July 25, 2005


WTAP News, Parkersburg, WV

The furnaces can reach up to 2,500 degrees; the temperature outside, climbing into the mid 90s. Together they make for an almost unbearable heat situation at the Fenton Glass Factory in Williamstown.

"Our glass workers are aware of the heat, they've been through it before. They know to drink liquids, they know to drink continuously, to wait until their thirsty and they watch out for each other," says Assistant Fenton Historian Jim Measell.

With no air conditioning in the factory, workers are forced to find alternate means of relief.

Air hoses and large fans help keep things cooler, and so do taking frequent breaks, but even then workers say the heat can win out.

"We've had probably 10 to 12 just in the last 10 minutes tell us they were exhausted and done for the day. We'll come back tomorrow and try it again," says work foreman Jon Anderson.

The glass production room can at times reach 115 to 120 degrees.

One of the ways they keep the workers cools is supplying them with bandanas that are filled with gel and dipped in ice water.

But why is there no air conditioning?

Well, Fenton officials say it's simply not feasible for a factory of this size.

"The hotter a room is, the more expensive it would be to air condition it and we've got ceilings that are probably 40 to 50 feet high, so it just isn't practical," says Measell.

"We're pretty understanding and lenient when it comes to this. We understand guys are putting forth 100 percent, doing the best they can. There are just days that you can't get eight hours out of them," says Anderson.






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