15 Geo. J. on Poverty L. & Pol'y 391 (2008)
A Slaughterhouse Nightmare: Psychological Harm Suffered by Slaughterhouse Employees and the Possibility of Redress through Legal Reform

handle is hein.journals/geojpovlp15 and id is 395 raw text is: Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy
Volume XV, Number 2, Summer 2008
A Slaughterhouse Nightmare: Psychological Harm
Suffered by Slaughterhouse Employees and
the Possibility of Redress through
Legal Reform
Jennifer Dillard
The worst thing, worse than the physical danger, is the emotional toll ....
Pigs down on the kill floor have come up and nuzzled me like a puppy. Two
minutes later I had to kill them-beat them to death with a pipe. I can't care.
-Ed Van Winkle, hog-sticker at Morrell slaughterhouse plant,
Sioux City, Iowa
I. INTRODUCTION
What's the true cost of a hamburger? To the consumer, it's anywhere from
under a dollar to, perhaps, fifteen bucks in an upscale burger joint. But to the
slaughterhouse workers, as many Americans are aware,' the cost of your
hamburger includes the financial and physical hardships of the slaughterhouse
work itself.
However, less publicly discussed or understood is the psychological trauma
inflicted on slaughterhouses workers.2 Not only do the employees face serious
physical health hazards, but they also experience, on a daily basis, large-scale
violence and death that most of the American population will never have to
encounter.3 This article will discuss the psychological harm caused by slaughter-
1. For example, the film Fast Food Nation graphically demonstrated the physical and financial strain
that slaughterhouse work places on its workers. This film grossed over a million dollars at the U.S. box
office. Internet Movie Database, Fast Food Nation, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0460792/ (last visited
September 10, 2008).
2. This paper will use the terms slaughterhouse worker and meatpacking worker interchangeably.
3. The fast pace of slaughterhouse work is psychologically taxing, even before accounting for the
violent nature of the work. See Bengt Gustafsson, The Health and Safety of Workers in a Confined Animal
System, 49 LIVESTOCK PROD. SCi. 191, 194 (1997) (In present-day livestock farming with large herds,
many animals per man, high working speed, and great economic values at stake, the mental load can be
heavy and result in great stress, especially for people working alone. Frequent stress situations increase
the risk of accidents, injuries and in the long run mental ill-health. The safest work is performed if the
herdsman does not have too many animals to handle, if he is relaxed and work[s] slowly and quietly and
is consistent in his behaviour. The problem of accident prevention is complex and requires a cooperation
of the engineers planning farm buildings, the occupational safety and health service, educators and the
farmers and farm workers themselves.).

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