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The risks of working in a chicken processing plant

Working in a chicken processing plant isn't a glamorous job, but given how popular chicken is in the American diet, it is important work. A lot of people in Iowa and Nebraska make an honest living by helping turn chickens into clean and easy-to-cook food products. These workers play a critical role in helping to feed America.

Unfortunately, in addition to being messy, their work is dangerous. Those who work in chicken processing plants get exposed to raw chicken, which increases their risk of illness. The factories usually have hazardous chemicals, such as ammonia, which play a role in processing. Chemical exposure is a risk as well.

However, the most common injuries are likely repetitive motion injuries and accidents involving sharp blades and other processing machinery. Workers on a strict quota for processing times can make mistakes that result in injuries. Even those who avoid accidents can wind up seriously hurt from repeating the same movement for hours day after day.

Performing the same task repeatedly can lead to injury

The human body can handle an amazing assortment of tasks and jobs. Unfortunately, even the strongest and most diligent of workers can wind up hurt from doing the same job every day. That's because while the body can perform a wide range of tasks, it doesn't handle doing the same thing repeatedly as well.

For example, gripping a knife in your hand for hours on end can lead to strain and injuries in the fingers, wrists and forearms. Lifting over and over can lead to strain in the knees and back. Twisting and turning while moving items down a line can create repetitive strain on certain muscle groups and connective tissue in your body.

These injuries are cumulative, which means they develop over time before they present symptoms. Rest is usually the only way to treat the symptoms, although surgery is sometimes necessary. Many people also require physical therapy and potentially a change of position after suffering a repetitive motion injury. Employers could help their staff avoid these injuries by giving them a varied workload, but companies tend to prefer efficiency for production over the safety of their workers.

Cutting tools always pose a risk

Many people in chicken production facilities have to use blades or other cutting implements as part of their tasks. There is a sharp learning curve for efficiently and safely using a blade or cutting tool. Even those who have been doing the job for a long time and who have a perfect safety record may accidentally hurt themselves or someone else if they get startled or experience a medical event ranging from a muscle cramp to a heart attack.

Deep cuts and lacerations present not just the traumatic injury but also the risk for infection, as the blade has been in contact with raw chicken. The consequences of a cut could range from nerve damage and loss of range of motion or strength to the loss of a limb, in some cases.

Those who suffer severe injuries, whether they develop over time or are the result of a single accident, may be able to file a claim for workers' compensation insurance in Iowa or Nebraska. An attorney can help you with the process of getting the benefits you need after a poultry plant injury.

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