While there were some positive aspects to the industrial revolution, most of the aspects were negative due to child labor, long hours of work, poor sanitation, and small working and living areas. Even though the industrial revolution only occurred from 1780 to the mid 1800s, there were still many flaws that occurred during the time period.
Technological advancements were occurring during this period, but the working conditions were poor. The poor conditions were main faults because of the various injuries that harmed many people, especially children. There were many flaws to the industrial revolution, but the worst flaw was child labor.
Nowadays, child labor laws are very strict, but during the industrial revolution, child labor laws did not even exist. As a result, there were few to no protections concerning the children of the time. To begin, children had to work for extremely long hours with very little sleep. Children who worked in factories, as fork grinders, had many serious accidents. For one, these children were only of age eight or older.
This was very dangerous because they would not have the sense to get out of the way if a stone or object flew out at them. Another concern was the amount of dust in the air. This caused many lung problems which led to “grinder’s complaint, a bodily ailment or disease,” (Children’s commission report). Even with lungs of steel, a child would still suffer in this kind of working environment.
Injuries were a result of harsh working conditions. One of these dreadful working environments existed in the pits of Charlesworth. Children worked in knee high water and would suffer from the freezing cold. There was no fire or furnace to keep them warm. In response to this, children usually got headaches, colds, coughs, nose bleeds, and sore throats. Furthermore, working hours were very dreadful as well.
Children would usually go down to the pits at six in the morning and would not come out until six in the evening. However, they did get a small break at noon for lunch only consisting of about half an hour. Even with these suffering conditions, they still managed to wake up before six every morning.
No matter how hard someone thought their job was, it definitely was not as hard as what the chimney sweepers had to deal with. They had to work in small, dark, and filthy spaces, while cleaning the insides of chimneys. Because the spaces in the chimneys were so small, people rarely saw grown adults cleaning them. Again, this is an example of the child labor that occurred during the time period. Moreover, in order to get up the chimneys, children would have to put pins in their feet in order to ascend. This was one of the most abusive jobs during the time period.
Children would come home with “sores and bruises, and wounds and burns on their thighs, knees and elbows,” (Report from the Committee of the House of Commons on the petitions against the employment of boys in sweeping chimneys.) Another flaw of having children ascend chimneys at an early age was that they were still at a period in their lives where their bones were still growing and their bones were at a soft stage.
By ascending these chimneys, children could have, and probably did, become crippled or deformed. Finally, because of all of the smoke and soot located in the chimneys, many children got Chimney-sweeper’s Cancer. Chimney-sweeper’s Cancer was a disease that many boys got because of an irritation that occurred in the scrotum. It was caused by an exposure to soot. There might have been hard jobs in the Industrial Revolution, but nothing was as hard and dirty as what the children had to undergo when cleaning chimneys.
One of the saddest parts of children having to work long hours is that they are deprived from their relatives and family. This means that they would not get as much attention as a child should be getting at that age. As a child, one should not be deprived this much because it could lead to depression.
Also, if a child is working their entire life, they will not get a chance to have a real childhood. Without a childhood, a child would not know the difference from being a kid to being an adult. Children are supposed to have fun, not work all day in a dangerous environment without any play time. Furthermore, they will most likely be social misfits, and will have trouble making friends in the future. Family should always come before work, no matter what.
There may have been hard working conditions in the Industrial Revolution, but the living space and unsanitary atmosphere was just as horrific. To begin with, the atmosphere in the industrial revolution was very unclean due to nearby factories. There was also a lot of “noxious dust” (Robert Baker on the Unsanitary Conditions of a Factory Town) floating around in the air as well. Not only was the atmosphere a problem, but the working facilities and living quarters were outrageously unsanitary as well. The roads were about four to ten yards wide as well.
This obviously did not leave enough room for several people to walk back and forth from their destinations. An even worse factor was the poorly treated water in the area. Because there was no sewer system, people were drinking very musty and polluted water because of the smoke from the nearby factories.
With the hard work that these people overcame during the day, they still had to come home to small living spaces, and contaminated water. “The employment of young children in any labour is wrong.” (Charles Turner Thackrah on the Health of Factory workers) At least someone during the Industrial Revolution had some common sense.
This is a statement that everyone should agree with. Children should not be working long hours at a time with few or no breaks. The only type of work they should have been doing was homework or work that requires “light and varied motions.” (Charles Turner Thackrah…) Not only did the children have to work hard lives, but they came home to a small, crammed house with a horrible water supply. The Industrial Revolution is not a chapter in history that wants to be remembered with respect to children.