In 1955 Kaiser Aluminum decided there was no better way to promote safety on the job than to have models—in bikinis—demonstrate proper equipment handling.
That’s how the woman seen in the photo below came to pose holding a gas hole bar while wearing fireproof covers over her shoes, thick gloves, safety glasses, a hard hat, and a two-piece.
Behind her a painted backdrop depicts a simplified version of the tideflats with Mt. Rainier in the distance.
In a series of photos the plant commissioned, questionably clad women perform manufacturing tasks.
Here another model demonstrates raking Calcined Alumina with a long metal apparatus.
Not sure how to lift a hundred pound bag of Kaiser chemicals?
Here’s a beauty photographed demonstrating the lift with your legs, not your back technique.
The Tacoma Public Library‘s actual caption elaborates: “Although she is not wearing much clothing, she does protect her hands and eyes with the proper safety equipment.”
In the following photograph a barefoot model poses on tiptoes with “arms akimbo.”
According to the online archives, “Kaiser used models for their safety programs, possibly to ensure that employees would be paying attention to the warnings and instructions.”
Though it isn’t easy to digest these photos in current context, these aren’t the only 1955 Tacoma photos you’ll find questionable. Be sure to also check out the “sizing up mrs. Tacoma” competition that took place the same year.
Images courtesy of the Tacoma Public Library’s Northwest Room.