Working conditions
“Evil work that takes tender youth in its grip,
That produces wealth by creating misery,
That uses a child as just another tool!” Victor Hugo
In the 19th-century, in both Europe and the Arab and Ottoman world, working conditions were generally very trying for artisans, workers and peasants. Equipment was still often rudimentary and required significant physical effort to operate. The development of machines helped to produce more, but these machines were dangerous. Labour laws were still in their infancy, and working conditions were tough with very long days, night work, child labour and inadequate protection against accidents at work. Numerous illnesses were linked to working conditions, such as pulmonary illnesses among miners. Philanthropists, doctors, politicians and associations highlighted this state of affairs and denounced it.
In the Sicilian Sulphur Mines

Children at work in the Sicilian sulphur mines at the end of the 19th century

29 August 1899

State Library of Modern and Contemporary History, Rome, Italy

In mines, working conditions were particularly difficult and dangerous. In the 19th century, children were put to work in mines because their small size allowed them to work in the narrowest, but more dangerous, galleries.

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