There is concern among American poultry and meatpacking workers that regulatory changes in the industry could make their workplace unsafe.  It is felt that high processing speeds within these industries have resulted in worker injuries.  This can include carpal tunnel and repetitive stress injuries.

These workers rely upon the jobs they hold to support their families.  Unfortunately, the injuries that they can suffer while engaging in this type of work can make it impossible for them to continue to perform physical labor.  For example, rates of carpal tunnel syndrome among meatpacking and poultry workers have been between 40 to 80 percent.

Most of the workers blame the speed of the processing line as a primary factor concerning these injuries.  Despite such concerns, the Department of Agriculture has now proposed that processing speeds be raised by close to 25 percent and cut the number of federal inspectors by around 75 percent.

Many of these workers have testified at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that they have generally not been compensated when suffering from a work-related injury or illness.  Many workers claim to have been fired or let go if these problems were reported. 

One meatpacking worker testified that he had surgery performed on both hands, had an additional two procedures performed on his back and has spent hours in therapy.  He stated that he has lost the strength and ability to grip in his hands.  “Imagine being disabled at the age of 41,” he stated.  He states that he was laid-off from his job once his doctor set work restrictions for him.

As Pennsylvania employment injury lawyers, we see workers struggle to make do after being injured upon the job.  Though a process has been put in place for individuals injured in such a manner, the steps to recover may be complex.  Lawyers can provide legal advice and assist workers through the entire process.

Source: Mint Press News, “Meatpacking Workers Fight ‘Unacceptable And Inhumane’ Conditions,” Carey L. Biron, March 27, 2014