Industrialization marked a shift to powered, special-purpose machinery, factories and mass reduction. The iron and textile industries, along with the development of the steam engine, played central roles in the Industrial Revolution, which also saw improved systems of transportation, communication and banking. While industrialization brought about an increased level and range of manufactured goods and an improved standard of living for some, it also resulted in harsh employment and living conditions for the poor and working classes.
The Industrial Revolution brought on a larger level and variety of factory- produced goods and raised the standard of living for many people, mainly for the middle and upper classes. However, life for the poor and working classes continued to be filled with challenges. Wages for those who worked in factories were low and working conditions could be dangerous and repetitive. Unskilled workers had little job security and were easily replaceable. Children were part of the labor force and often worked long hours and were used for highly hazardous tasks like cleaning the machinery.
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It was quite common for workers to work 12 hours or more a day, in the hot and physically exhausting work places. Fatigue naturally leads to the workers becoming slothful which again makes the workplace more dangerous. The children were often employed to move between these dangerous machines as they were small enough to fit between tightly packed machinery. This led to them being placed in a great deal of danger and the death rates were fairly high in factories. In the early asses, an estimated one-fifth of the workers in Britain’s textile industry were younger than 15.
Industrialization also meant that some craftspeople were replaced by machines. Additionally, urban, industrialized areas were incapable of keeping a pace with the flow of arriving workers from the countryside, resulting in scarce, overcrowded housing and polluted, unhygienic living conditions in which disease were uncontrolled. Industries such as the cotton trade were mostly hard for workers to bear long hours of labor. The nature Of the work being done meant that the workplace had to be very hot, steam engines contributes to the heat in this and other industries.
Machinery was not always fenced off and workers would be exposed to the moving parts of the machines whilst they worked. The reformers steadily managed to force changes to the way that workers were treated. Some of these reforms were: Factory Act 1819 | Limited the hours worked by children to a maximum of 12 per day. I Factory Act 1833 | Children under 9 banned from working in the textiles industry and 10-13 year olds limited to a 48 hour week. I Factory Act 1844 | Maximum of 12 hours work per day for Women. I Factory Act 1847 | Maximum of 10 hours work per day for Women and children.
Factory Act 1850 | Increased hours worked by Women and children to 10 and a half hours a day, but not allowed to work before am or after pm. | 1874 No worker allowed to work more than 56. 5 hours per week. I In 1842 a Parliamentary Committee which reported on the mines found that many workers were working in the most terrible conditions. Not only did they work very long hours, but they were also hired at very young ages. Children as young as five were used as ‘trappers’ to open and close underground doors in the mine to let the ‘hurries’, who pulled the loaded wagons, get through.
These children worked in the dark because their families Were Often too poor to be able to afford candles. They Were in the dark for up to 12 hours each day and often had rats crawling all over them. If they fell asleep they were beaten by the miners. The commission also found that children were employed as coal ‘hurries’, pulling carts or sledges filled tit coal over long distances and through very small tunnels. Girls as young as thirteen were often used for this work. The chain around their waist caused damage to their pelvic bones, distorting them and making them smaller.
This often proved fatal in later life when many of them died in childbirth. The commission discovered that men, women, boys and girls were working together in the most terrifying situation. Strangely enough, it was the fact that girls were mixed with ‘near naked’ men which caused the most upset, and not the long hours or the harsh and brutal conditions. Other omissions, such as the Factories Inquiry Commission of 1833, gathered evidence and reported that the circumstances in factories was just as unpleasant.
The factory inspectors found that children worked twelve hour days, generally with only a one hour break. Fifth factory or mill was busy, they might work up to eighteen hours a day. The conditions were every bit as bad as in the mines, and some reports told of children spending their entire working lives doubled up under machinery in cotton mills. They were often eternally disabled as a result. The combination of public rage, political anxiety ND changes in the law eventually led to better and safer working conditions.
The working-class began to progressively improve by the later part of the 19th century, as the government instituted various labor reforms and workers gained the right to form trade unions. By the end of the 19th century, conditions had greatly improved. However, this was not done without pressure from the workers themselves, who more and more gathered to protest about their conditions of work. These gatherings eventually led to organized self-help groups which later became known as Trade Unions.