Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers: Poultry Workers Face Injury RiskDecember 14, 2015
The American poultry industry is booming, and while the turkey gets most of the attention during the holiday season, chicken is the year-round star of the dinner table. It is estimated that each American will eat an average of 90 pounds of chicken this year. Unfortunately, our love affair with all things feathered comes at a price to those who work so hard on poultry production lines.
According to a recent report by the nonprofit group, Oxfam America, U.S., poultry workers suffer extremely high rates of injury and illness, earn poverty level wages and work in a climate of fear. The report cited numerous studies that documented hazardous plant conditions that lead to injury and illness rates well above national averages. Musculoskeletal injuries were the most frequently cited workplace injury, caused by the relentless pace of the processing line. Workers report having to perform anywhere from 20,000 to 100,000 repetitive pulling, cutting and hanging motions in a single eight hour day, placing them at high risk of repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
The issue of poultry workers suffering from musculoskeletal injuries is nothing new. Last year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) conducted an investigation of injury rates at a poultry processing plant in Maryland. Based on their findings, 81% of workers at the plant had average levels of hand activity and force above the action limits prescribed by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists. The consequence of these repetitive motions is evidenced by the physical symptoms so many workers experience. According to the study, 76% of workers evaluated had an abnormal nerve conduction test result in at least one hand. Additionally, more than one-third exhibited signs of carpal tunnel syndrome as defined by pain, numbness, burning, tingling in the hands or wrists, occurring more than three times or lasting seven days or longer in the past 12 months.
In addition to the fast-past working conditions, the Oxfam report highlighted a number of serious safety violations found in many poultry processing plants. The most recent example included a decision by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in September to fine Pilgrim’s Pride $46,825 for preventable safety violations that injured three employees, including one woman who lost three of her fingers in a workplace accident. Despite this example, Oxfam contends that many poultry plants remain hazardous and that there needs to be better government oversight. They argue that the vast majority of poultry workers are afraid of reporting their injuries due to fear of retaliation and because of this, official government statistics likely undercount the true rate of injury by a significant margin.
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate For Employees’ Right to Work in a Safe Environment
If you have been injured on the job, you have rights. For more than 30 years, Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton have been fighting to ensure that employees receive full and fair compensation after a work-related injury or illness. Call 844-556-4LAW (4529) today to schedule your free and confidential consultation with one of our dedicated Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers or contact us online. A qualified member of our staff is available to take your call 24 hours a day.