The recommendations made by the Human Rights Watch group are good steps in increasing the safety for workers in the meat packing industry. Workers of any industry deserve to work in the safest work environment available and should be afforded to work with and use safe equipment and tools. They also should be taught to know the hazards involved with their taskings. Employers have a responsibility to ensure these elements of safety occur in the workplace. The problem is that it usually comes at a high price, cutting profits. So some employers choose to ignore the safety issues possibly taking advantage of an immigrant’s illegal status for their silence. The immigrants are human and deserving of the basic human rights. The Human Rights Watch group helps to fight to ensure employers provide an adequately safe environment for their employees to work in. The breakdown of the recommendations include: “New federal and state laws to reduce production line speeds. Stronger state regulations to halt underreporting of injuries. Stronger worker compensation laws and enforcement of anti-retaliation laws. U.S. labor law compliance with international standards on workers’ freedom of association. New laws ensuring workers’ safety regardless of their immigration status.” (Gonzalez, “Group criticizes packers Meat industry officials dismiss Human Rights Watch report Recommendations; [Iowa, Nebraska Edition]”, par. 3)
The responsibility for a safe work environment lies on the shoulders of the employer. However US history has shown that many employers have had little concern for the workers but only for the profit. At the beginning of the 20th century the death rate for miners was extremely high. In a four year period between 1911 and 1915 the average deaths per year were 3329 people. (“Improvements in workplace safety--United States, 1900-1999”, par 6.) The mining companies failed to take steps to ensure a safe work environment was in place. Mining is an inherently dangerous job and most lost their lives due to poor training and lack of knowledge of all the hazards involved. ‘The largest number of miners have been killed by collapsing mine roofs and vertical walls, followed by haulage-related incidents. However, methane gas and coal dust explosions have caused the largest number of deaths from "disasters" (i.e., incidents in which five or more deaths occurred); airborne suspension of dry coal dust and natural liberation of methane (present in all coal beds) create an environment susceptible to explosions.’ (“Improvements in workplace safety—United States, 1900-1999”, par. 7.) The workplace has only become safer through the study and practice of safety awareness. The improvements in safety from the last century came about because of the, “efforts by individual workers, unions, employers, government agencies and scientist…” (“Improvements in workplace safety—United States, 1900-1999”, par. 1.) The employers alone cannot always implement the correct safety improvements. The shared responsibility of everyone involved is the best option for increased safety. Even government involvement are required to motivate an employer to ensure the company work is accomplished according set regulations. A responsible employer will ensure that his/her employers are properly trained and equipped. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 discusses the roles of the employer stating, “that the general duty of all employers is to provide their employees with a workplace free from recognized serious hazards. This includes the prevention and control of ergonomic hazards.” (“Ergonomics Program Management Guidelines for Meatpacking Plants”, par.3.) History has also given examples that the obligations of an employer are not just legal but also moral. The Babylonian ruler Hammurabi around 2500 BC implemented 271 laws including the safety and welfare of his subject. These laws also contained penalties or...
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