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Survey: Poultry Processing Plants See High Workplace Injury Rates

A survey of 300 current and former poultry processing plant workers found workplace injury rates as high as 86 percent. The survey found that workers in these plants had high rates of injuries to the arms, wrist and hands. The staggering workplace injury rates have drawn the attention of worker advocacy groups and human rights organizations. Researchers with these groups have claimed that poultry workers are among the most mistreated and abused of any industry.

Details of the Workplace Injury Rates Survey

The survey was conducted by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group known for its civil rights activism. The 2013 survey found that 86 percent of participating workers reported injuries to their hands and wrists, one of the highest workplace injury rates of any industry. Most of these workers experienced pain, swelling or numbness in their hands. These disabilities were frequently so severe that the workers could not close their hands. This disability forced the workers, many of them immigrants, to quit work without any health insurance or workers compensation to help them through their injuries.

Workplace Injury Rates and High Speeds

One of the factors the survey found that contributed to the high workplace injury rates was the high rate of speed at which workers were forced to process the birds. Omar Hassan, a former worker at a Minnesota turkey processing plant, told a reporter that “the line speed was extremely high,” and that he would routinely process more than 50 turkeys a minute. He also pointed out exhaustion as a contributing factor to workplace injury rates. He stated that he and his fellow workers “could be standing in the same position for eight hours without rotation.”

OSHA Report Shows High Workplace Injury Rates

A report from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration showed that injuries to the wrists and hands were “common among workers” in the poultry industry. The report also showed that the poultry industry showed higher workplace injury rates for such injuries than any other industry. In 2013, OSHA had released updated guidelines to the poultry industry in an attempt to reduce workplace injury rates.

Does High Demand Lead to Higher Workplace Injury Rates?

The turkey industry produces more than 5 billion pounds of meat each year, mostly for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. The high demand for these big birds may contribute to the high rates needed to process the birds, which can also lead to the higher workplace injury rates at processing plants. Sarah Rich, a staff attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center, told reporters that workers are “often mistreated, and treated as if they are disposable.” She also cited some plants which have “100 percent turnover” and that “these jobs are not designed for human beings to withstand for very long.”


Know Your Rights in a Workplace Injury Lawsuit

To find out how we can help you with a workplace injury lawsuit, contact us today at 877-892-2797. Our friendly staff will ask a few questions about your case and connect you to a workplace injury lawsuit attorney. You can also fill out the “Free Case Evaluation” form at the top of this page.

NOTE: This blog post is a news story and does not constitute and endorsement of the Amaro Law Firm by any parties mentioned herein.

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