According to the U.S. Department of Labor, meat packing is one of the most dangerous professions in America. Meatpacking exposes workers to cold temperatures, dangerous machines and plenty of sharp objects. While physical injuries such as severed fingers and blunt force trauma immediately come to mind when we think of the dangers associated with the industry, diseases are a big threat to the well-being of workers.
While we don't always think of diseases as something that worker's compensation covers, you may be able to receive compensation for your medical bills and any missed work due to the illness.
Common Diseases of the Meatpacking Industry
Because meatpackers are working with a lot of raw meat, not to mention knives and other sharp objects that may cause cuts, many of the diseases associated with the occupation are bacterial. These can include:
- Brucellosis- A bacterial disease that is contracted by handling contaminated cattle or swine. Symptoms of the disease include inconstant fever, headaches, weakness, joint pain, night sweats and loss of appetite.
- Erysipeloid- A disease that affects the skin which spreads through direct contact with raw meat and fish especially through cuts and skin abrasions. Erysipeloid causes irritation around the infected area and can spread to the blood stream and lymph nodes.
- Leptospirosis- A disease usually spread through contact with animal urine. Symptoms for mild leptospirosis include fever, chills, diarrhea and coughing and in extreme cases may lead to hospitalization.
Can I Receive Worker's Compensation for these Illnesses?
Contracting these diseases may lead to unexpected medical bills and missed work. However, you may be able to receive compensation from your employer's workers' compensation insurance program. To receive compensation, you must prove that you contracted the disease as a direct result of your workplace environment. If you experience any of the symptoms associated with these diseases, you should seek out a doctor for a diagnosis. Since these are rare diseases that usually only occur in people who work with livestock, it may be easier to prove your case than with other workers' compensation claims involving illness.
You should be weary when dealing with insurance claims adjusters, as they want to settle claims quickly and inexpensively and may not have your best interests in mind.