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Did Overworked Employees in the Industrial Revolution Bring a Better Future?

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In the mid 1700’s, industry and factories began to spring up in England, otherwise known as the Industrial Revolution. New machines and technologies were introduced and a more efficient way of production was developed. Although production was now more efficient, the rise of industry had a negative impact on the employees. Life was made easier but at the same time difficult.

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The overworking of factory employees was a serious issue during the Industrial Revolution, which is proven true in Document 3, by Elizabeth Bentley and John Forrest. Elizabeth Bentley states, “I worked in the mill from five in the morning till nine at night.” Similarly, Forrest spoke about there being no regular hours in the mill. You worked from whatever time you were supposed to go into work until whatever time the bosses decided. This affected workers mentally and physically due to the fact that they could be replaced as easily as they had been hired. No one wanted to be replaced so nobody had the audacity to complain about how long they had been working or how dangerous a job was. People worked frequently from age 10 and didn’t have any time to get an education. Normally there was only one break of 40 minutes, during a full 16 hour day at noon.(Doc 1) Not only is that not fair but everybody was too afraid to complain in fear of getting whipped, as they did frequently or fired. However, children were a huge part of the mills. They began working around the ages of 8 to 10 years old. They were small enough to fix things without getting hurt, most of the time. As a result of children working, they were uneducated and becoming weaker as opposed to being healthy, as a child should be.

Additionally, being overworked comes with consequences. Employees were in the mills so much it was unhealthy. Mills and factories were dirty and dangerous. In document 2, Joseph Herbergam testified that his illness was due to the factory he had been working in. Not only do his leg muscles not work properly, but his muscles are damaged and a doctor made him aware of the fact that he would die within the next year. The conditions of factories caused serious malnutrition, disease and fatal accidents. Document 4 shows that the working conditions were extremely poor. Factories and mills were rarely cleaned. Because of the dangers and lack of education, in 1833, a Factory Act was passed stating that, Children under 9 were banned from working in the textiles industry and 10-13 year olds limited to a 48 hour week.

Correspondingly, the Industrial Revolution had a negative impact on the environment as well. The factories production resulted in smog and soot which had a serious health impact on the residents near and around the areas of the pollution.(Doc 5) Over 25,000 died from pollution alone. With a lack of good hygiene and little to no knowledge about pollution or how these diseases were being caused.

Ultimately, the efficiency of production did impact the world in a positive way as opposed to the way the factories and mills were run. Although the rise of industry had a negative impact on employees and others, where would we be today if the Industrial Revolution had never happened?

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