‘Distraction can cause an accident’, ‘Electricity does not warn’, ‘Order at work, everything in its place’, ‘Do not use tools in poor condition’. These are some of the messages that can be read on the signage of the Museu Trepat de Tàrrega, installed in the old Cal Trepat factory, which was a powerful Lleida industry that dominated the agricultural machinery market between 1930 and 1960. Closed in 1982, in the moment of greatest activity, in 1957, 257 employees worked. Generally during the year the number of workers oscillated between 100 and 200.
In an attempt to show some of its archival work, the museum has just launched the thematic visit Work accidents and occupational diseases in Cal Trepat. It takes place once a month and goes through the five ships that have museumized ships. In them you can see accident reports and documents on compliance with the Safety and Hygiene at Work regulations of 1940. It was reviewed annually and since the factory did not pass the controls, it used to have fines to improve safety at work. In 1940 the documents record 34 accidents, in its last years more than eighty.
“All the measures that were officially requested were applied, at the end of the guided tour a document comes out that would be like the chop sheet of reality, like accounting B, that of the factory infirmary. There, 250 real accidents per year were counted. It is seen that many of these accidents are not referred to the doctor to save mutual money, but are directly treated inside the factory with non-specialized personnel”, says the technician and guide, Roser Miarnau.
“In these circumstances, apparently there are fewer workers on sick leave, but since they are active and they are not being properly cured, in the long run the illnesses last longer. And you can’t lower the accident rate ”, he adds.
The guide says that people are surprised by the quality with which the workers worked there and that sometimes they risked more than what was required of them.
“When you sharpened, or when you did something that caused sparks to come out, you had to put on your glasses, there were some who didn’t put them on and then they hit the eye,” says a worker in the video that can be seen on the guided tour, in in which another employee recounts how he cut the tendons in one foot.
The documentation with which Miarnau has worked shows that the most frequent injuries in the factory “were precisely in the eyes, the weakest point of the workers, with burns, and splashes.”
the value of women
It is also a visit that values women, although there were no workers. Only men worked in the factory, except for a woman who did the cleaning and another who entered the offices in the sixties. Miarnau has incorporated the testimony of mothers, sisters, women, “because after all, they are the ones who really ended up taking care of themselves, for example, diet or cures.” “It is women who take care that physical, mental and emotional health is stable and for this reason, just as we have a book about workers, we are working on another to highlight their absence, focusing on the fact that women are not physically there but they are they are in many tasks ”, he concludes.
For his part, the director of the museum, Jaume Espinagosa, assures that, with this new visit, which takes place one Saturday a month that is not fixed, the museum explains an important part of the history of Cal Trepat.
For the director, the first guided visits on work accidents, apart from being instructive, are very emotional. “Some ex-worker who years ago, when we did the first interviews, barely told anything, is encouraged to visit. The heirs of former workers are opening the doors of their homes to us to explain their experience as the son or grandson of the father or grandfather who worked at Cal Trepat”, he recounts.
This visit is the latest initiative of the museum, which occupies five of the 19 naves of the old Cal Trepat. Number 19 is rehabilitated as a nursery for innovative companies and the others remain intact pending revision of the roofs.
As it has done for years, the museum continues to work on educational projects with primary and secondary schools and with the University of Lleida, with teacher students and industrial design engineering students. It also continues to rent spaces for events, such as photo shoots or as a set for film shoots (such as vulcania) and hosts the Embarrat contemporary art festival every year.
In January, in one of the first collaborations between the University of Lleida and the Jaume Espinagosa museum, the technicians Roser Miarnau, Olga Dalmau and Eli Rius, the professor of the Faculty of Pedagogy Gloria Jové and the professor of the State University of Parana ( Brazil) Daniel Momoli participated in a work on the learning of boys and girls in museums, heritage spaces and contemporary art.
The practice consisted of the artists taking advantage of industrial materials for their works. Boys and girls from the Jacint Verdaguer de Tàrrega school participated in a creativity workshop dedicated to the pharmacist, writer and promoter of visual poetry Guillem Viladot, born in Agramunt in 1922 and died in Barcelona in 1999.