The Dangers Present at Poultry Processing Plants
Workers in the animal processing industry are exposed to a much higher degree of risk than most other workers. The leading causes of harm in the poultry industry are respiratory illnesses and traumatic injuries involving equipment and machinery.
Every day, hundreds of thousands of chickens are shipped to plants for processing. With the introduction of technology intended to facilitate the growth phase of poultry, there has been a marked increase in the production numbers being handled by both field and factory workers. There are certain hazards present when working with animals that do not exist in other industries, which is why strict measures are in place to prevent accidents from occurring in the workplace. Hiring a workers’ comp attorney is one of the first things you should do if you have been injured in the poultry industry.
Nevertheless, due to lax regulations in many states, and an apparent willingness by companies to avoid those regulations which are in place, accidents are commonplace. As of today, OSHA has not set strict standards for the industry. Though the lack of federal regulation is perceived by many business owners to be positive, many would argue it has allowed employers to reduce much-needed expenditures in implementing adequate safety measures. Add in the fact that a great deal of undocumented workers are employed in processing plants, and the hazardous nature of the situation becomes even more apparent.
The Troubles that Plague the Poultry Processing Industry
Respiratory illnesses and diseases
These health conditions are mostly contracted in the initial phase of poultry processing, which is when the birds are being raised to the desired weight. Whether on small family farms or in large, commercially-based growing plants, the exposure to hazards such as litter, dander and manure are high. If inhaled, the airborne spores emitted by these substances can cause life-threatening respiratory issues to develop.
The individuals at greatest risk are those employees directly responsible for handling and tending to the chickens. The number of airborne contaminants is higher when dealing with older birds and during the winter months when buildings are closed to minimize exposure to the livestock. It is imperative that proper safety equipment and ventilation are in use. Indeed, employees should always wear respirators and eye protection, and containment buildings should be equipped with multiple air vents in an effort to reduce the potential for workplace respiratory illnesses and diseases.
Workers utilize many types of cutting tools in poultry processing plants, ranging from knives and scissors to electric deboning saws. These tools can be sharp and are problematic for assembly line works in the poultry industry. To prevent cuts, lacerations and loss of limbs, workers are required to wear arm guards and metal mesh gloves.
Other hazards include skin disorders such as dermatitis, slips and falls, and contact with chemicals. If you have been injured on the job, do not hesitate to contact a workers compensation attorney.