Impacts of Working in a Slaughterhouse

In the United States, there are approximately 1,100 federally inspected slaughterhouses, most of which are concentrated in the Mid-West. The USDA enforces the Humane Slaughter Act, which is meant to protect food animals until their slaughter. However, undercover footage of slaughterhouses shows that not enough is done to prevent the unnecessary pain and suffering of farm animals. But, let’s focus on the employees of these slaughterhouses who work in these dangerous conditions for very low wages. Workers are typically people of color from low-income communities (Killing for a Living). An unknown number of these workers are undocumented foreigners as employers try to hire those who cannot speak up about the inhumane practices they employ. The threat of termination often means deportation for many of these people. Slaughterhouse workers have a very high risk of injury due to harsh conditions such as slippery floors, high quotas to fulfill, and long hours working the line.

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This results in injuries such as carpal tunnel, tendonitis, amputations, and various other health impacts (Creating Killers). Ultimately, the psychological impacts of working in a slaughterhouse can be even more devastating. These employees must watch and kill countless animals to prepare them for packaging. This eventually has immense impacts on their mental health. Workers must continually suppress their ability to feel empathy for animals and desensitize. This oftentimes this leads to disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression (Slaughterhouse 1,100). Many former employees of slaughterhouses are reported to have drug abuse and alcoholism problems, as they cannot cope with some of the gruesome tasks of their job. What we can do as consumers is reduce the amount of meat we consume per week and shift towards more plant based diets.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Impacts of Working in a Slaughterhouse

  1. amyquandt

    At the end of your blog post you discuss how we can help slaughterhouse workers by consuming less meat. In my opinion, eating less meat would mean fewer slaughterhouse jobs for these workers. While the work is inhumane, people do it because they need a job and an income. What would you propose to make sure that these slaughterhouse workers will still have an income if they are no longer needed in the slaughterhouses?

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    • victoriallen

      Thank you for your comment. I think that if we encourage consumers to eat more plant based, less jobs will be obviously be needed in the slaughterhouse industry. However, these people working in slaughterhouses are often foreigners and ‘at-will’ employees who can be fired at any time. Therefore, I’m assuming most of these workers are already looking for more stable jobs. I think shifting towards a plant-based diet would reduce the amount of slaughterhouses and therefore the land and employees dedicated to this work could move towards farming and plant-based agriculture. However, there needs to be policy changes in order to allow these illegal immigrants to achieve citizenship through their employment in the US.

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