When most people think of the region’s more than 18,000 individuals working with chickens and turkeys, they might picture farmers. However, the vast majority of poultry workers spend a lifetime laboring at processing plants that prepare poultry for market. And like all manufacturing environments, those plants can become unsafe and potentially deadly worksites.
Common Hazards Among Poultry-Processing Employees
Men and women who work within the poultry processing industry can be exposed to a variety of hazards that put them at risk of being severely injured in an accident. These include, but are by no means not limited to:
- Slips and falls. Anyone who has handled a raw, skinned chicken knows how slippery the surface of the chicken can become. Not surprisingly, inadequate clean-up practices can lead to liquid on floors which can become the cause of worker slips and falls.
- Airborne and surface-based illness. Raw poultry must be kept at a certain temperature at all times to avoid production of bacteria. Even a bit of salmonella can be dangerous and cause illness. In a worker with a compromised immune system, it could be deadly.
- Hearing loss. The ambient sounds at a poultry processing plant can reach decibel levels higher than the ear should be exposed to. Over time, employees who work at poultry processing locations may develop tinnitus, partial hearing loss, or complete hearing loss in one or both ears.
- Amputation of limbs or digits. Another hazard faced by poultry workers is the possibility of losing a limb or finger. Machinery runs very rapidly and can quickly cause an amputation. As recently as 2017, one Delaware-based poultry employee lost a finger while on the job site. Improperly maintained equipment can also contribute to amputation or lacerations.
- Fatalities can happen whenever heavy equipment is being operated unsafely. One Delaware man lost his life in 2018 when he was hit by a falling pallet jack battery.
OSHA’s Regulations and Labor Laws Not Strictly Followed
To its credit, OSHA has penalized several Delmarva poultry companies. Regrettably, the poultry industry still skirts OSHA’s regulations and labor laws on what seems to be a regular basis. OSHA has repeatedly issued red flag warnings about certain poultry plants, but those plants continue to operate or fight back against the allegations.
If the accusations against the companies are true, their unwillingness to admit culpability not only puts workers at risk, but it casts a pall on the entire field. It also promotes a culture of distrust toward poultry processing that may hurt recruitment efforts at plants that follow the letter of the law, as well as generally ethical practices.
Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Assist Poultry Workers Hurt on the Job
The Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC are dedicated to helping individuals who have been hurt due to poor or inadequate poultry plant protocols. If you or someone you care about has experienced a workplace accident or injury, please call our firm at 302-888-1221 or 215-569-8488 or contact us online to set up a free consultation. From our offices in Wilmington, we assist clients in Dover, Middletown, and Newark, Delaware.