Packing workers can be found in the food processing industry and in the packaging industry. Many products people purchase at the grocery store start out looking very different. Many manufactured products also have to be placed in the appropriate packaging and shipped to the right locations, where they can be stored and eventually sold.
Food processing workers, also known as meat packers, work for slaughterhouses where they prepare meat. Some packers are responsible for slaughtering farm animals under the Human Slaughter Act of 1960. Others operate machinery such as steamers, de-hairing machine tenders, singers and shavers, to clean the meat. The carcase of the animal is cooled and the head is removed, according to State University. Then, the meat packers cut off different parts of the aniaml and place them in appropriate packaging to be sent to wholesalers and shops. The meat industry is heavily regulated, so meat packers must be fully informed about the legal requirements for meat packing.
In the manufacturing industry, packing workers pull orders from packing slips and identify which products within the warehouse are to be shipped. Packing workers also sometimes engage in assembly work, since many products do not show up fully assembled. Packing workers also load and unload trucks, according to Systems Material Handling.
Manufactured goods packing can be strenuous, since workers have to frequently lift and move several heavy products. Both types of packing are physically demanding and repetitive, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Packing workers also use protective equipment and follow safety regulations to avoid accidental injuries. Meat-packing facilities are usually cold and damp.
The need for food packers is not expected to change between 2008 and 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. While the need for food will grow as the population continues to grow, increased automation will reduce the number of food packers that will be needed. There are many packing tasks, however, that are impossible to automate.
The median hourly wages for pharmaceutical packers in 2008 were £9.40; the median hourly wages for fruit and vegetable packers were £8.20; and the median hourly wages for beverage packers were £9.90. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wages for animal slaughtering and processing workers in 2008 were £8.0.
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