Over the years, the high rate of injuries and illnesses in the meat and poultry industry has been well publicized, but federal regulators say the numbers most likely still do not tell the whole story.
A report released earlier this year from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says a high percentage of injuries in meat packing and poultry plants are not included in official workplace injury statistics for a variety of reasons.
- Some workers who suffer amputated limbs or fingers are not counted in the injury data because they are contract workers.
- Workers who see on-site medical personnel for pain are often encouraged to return to their jobs. One worker made 90 visits to an on-site nursing station before being referred to a physician.
- Immigrants, who make up a large percentage of the work force at meat and poultry plants, often choose not to report injuries in order to protect their jobs and their families. What's more, language barriers frequently prevent immigrant workers from receiving proper safety training or knowing the proper steps to take when they are injured.
The Most Common Injuries
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that injuries and illnesses have decreased over the past decade, but the meat and poultry industry still has one of the highest rates of injury and illnesses of any industry. The most common injuries are cuts, strains, cumulative trauma and injuries sustained from falls.
Injuries that are not reported and go untreated often get worse, sometimes beyond repair. If you are employed in agriculture or if you work in the meat and poultry industry, you should report any injuries immediately to supervisors, whether you are a citizen or not. It is also critical to receive medical attention as soon as possible and to follow the care that medical professionals provide.
A knowledgeable workers' compensation lawyer can help protect your interests and guide you through the process of applying for workers' compensation benefits. There are no upfront costs in these cases.