According to the General Accountability Office and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, certain industries record a higher percentage of job-related injuries and illnesses. Statistics obtained over the past several years indicate that workers in the poultry processing industry face a higher risk of suffering an on-the-job injury, including those who are employed in Missouri plants. While the poultry industry has taken steps to reduce these risks, there are many factors that continue to play a role in the dangers posed to workers.
According to incident reports, three workers suffered amputation injuries during a two-year period at poultry processing plants both here in Missouri and a neighboring state. In 2016, those who are employed in this industry suffered more work accidents than those who work in the oil, coal and logging industries. There are several reasons cited for why this field is more dangerous, including the type of machinery, speed and lack of appropriate safety training.
Tyson foods, which is a major supplier for chicken products, purportedly uses a processing speed of 148 birds per minute. The federal limit has been set at 140 birds per minute though companies can request speeds up to 175 per minute. At this speed, workers often struggle to perform their tasks safely. In addition, the use of sharp cutting implements has also been cited as a cause of injuries.
Another serious concern is that workers are not receiving appropriate safety training in their native languages. Tyson has purportedly hired dozens of new safety personnel, and the company reported a 22 percent decline in injury reports in 2017. In spite of enhanced training, Missouri workers — in any industry — still face the risk of suffering an on-the-job injury. Those who have been injured through no fault of their own are entitled to seek benefits from the state’s workers’ compensation program. An attorney who is knowledgeable about the process can prove to be an invaluable resource.