Life’s Work: The Power of Photography
In 1996, the AIHA Social Concerns Committee sponsored a photography exhibit at AIHce in Washington, D.C. It was called The Quiet Sickness, and it featured the photography of Earl Dotter, a local photographer who had spent nearly 30 years photographing workers on the job and the hazards they faced.

HONORING THE WORLD OF WORK Dotter had started his career photographing miners for the United Mine Workers’ Journal. He went on to photograph hospital workers, construction workers, poultry workers, migrant farm workers, and many others. His photographs were compelling. At AIHce, many people bought copies to hang in their offices to remind themselves why they became industrial hygienists. Two years later, the exhibit was translated into a book by the same name published by AIHA Press. The SCC also brought Earl’s photographs to AIHce 2010 in Denver for an exhibit on Native Americans called Holding Mother Earth Sacred. Twenty years had passed since the publication of The Quiet Sickness. Dotter’s photography had evolved from black and white to color and from film to digital. His repertoire had expanded. He had several major award-winning exhibits, including The Price of Fish on fishermen in the Northeast; Badges, on the history of asbestos disease in the U.S., which features actual name badges of workers who worked in the asbestos industries in the 1930s and 1940s; and photographs of workers doing cleanup at the World Trade Center after 9/11. Dotter also generously provided some of his photographs for a special supplement to The Synergist in September 2014 that commemorated AIHA’s 75th anniversary.  Over the years, Dotter had received many honors, including the American Public Health Association’s Alice Hamilton Award in 2001, which commemorated Dotter’s lifetime of service to occupational health and safety. In 2008, AIHA had named him an honorary member. It was time to publish a second book of his work.
SCOTT SCHNEIDER, CIH, FAIHA, recently retired as director of Occupational Safety and Health for the Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America.
View a selection of photographs from Earl Dotter's Life's Work.