Pennsylvania is home to many meatpacking facilities, bringing jobs and income to Harrisburg residents. The reliability of the industry also adds value to local and statewide economies.
It is easy to see why workers who need a steady paycheck seek employment in meatpacking plants. However, a job processing and packing meat can lead to workplace injuries — many of them potentially severe.
Common meatpacking injuries
Processing and packaging meat is labor-intensive and involves operating potentially dangerous equipment. Some of the physical injuries associated with meatpacking include:
- Back strain injuries from heavy lifting
- Leg and foot problems from excessive standing
- Hearing impairment from loud machinery
- Lacerations and crush injuries from equipment contact
- Fall injuries from slippery floors
- Body motion injuries from repetitive job tasks
When severe, these occupational injuries may require extensive medical intervention and rehabilitation. They may also result in time away from work.
Common meatpacking illnesses
In addition to physical injury hazards, meatpacking jobs can also lead to occupational illnesses. Below are two examples of how a work-related sickness may occur:
- Exposure to toxic industry chemicals (ammonia, chlorine, etc.)
- Exposure to influenza and other illnesses from sick animals
Workers who handle and process meat may also have an increased risk of developing lung cancer. Little is known about the reasons for this increase, but it may be associated with exposure to chemicals and/or viruses.
When you know the risks of employment in a meatpacking plant, you have a better chance of identifying the symptoms of workplace injuries and illnesses. It is also wise to learn more about Pennsylvania workers’ compensation laws to help ensure you get the benefits you deserve.