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Infectious disease among many job hazards for meatpacking workers

| Aug 28, 2020 | Firm News |

The global health crisis has struck numerous workplaces, including some of the nation’s meatpacking plants. Minnesota is home to many such facilities that process beef, pork and poultry. Outbreaks have been reported at many plant locations, including in Chandler, Cold Spring, Long Prairie, Melrose, Willmar Windom and Worthington.

The risk of disease is just one of the numerous job hazards faced by meatpacking plant employees. Every day, these workers confront dangerous situations as they try to keep pace with market demand. Americans love to eat meat.

Slip-and-fall injuries, cuts and tendonitis

Among the serious health and safety hazards within the meatpacking industry include:

  • Slip-and-falls: One of the biggest hazards of meat processing workers due to the nature of their jobs. Plant floors often are wet and slippery from discarded animal parts, animal fat and blood.
  • Knife cuts: This common tool has caused many cuts and abrasions to the torso and hands of workers. Knives typically cause the most severe and frequent accidents.
  • Cumulative trauma disorders: This includes tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome, which often occur in jobs that require repeated hand movement.
  • Back injuries: Workers often carry large meat carcasses, putting excessive strain on their backs.
  • Hazardous chemicals: This may include ammonia, used in the refrigeration process; carbon dioxide due to working with dry ice; and carbon monoxide when smokehouses are not properly ventilated.
  • Infectious disease: Long before the recent health crisis, meatpacking workers confronted disease due to animal feces and blood while processing the meat. Workers may be susceptible to diseases such as brucellosis and leptospirosis.
  • Exposure to loud noises: Hearing protection should be consistently worn.
  • Dangerous equipment: Improved training may minimize severe injuries such as amputation and disfigurement.

Meatpacking plants must ramp up efforts to improve safety for their workers. Awareness and action are crucial not just during the time of the current global health crisis, but all the time. At Atkinson Gerber Law Office, our attorneys have helped many injured meatpacking workers get access to the benefits they need after an injury.