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Processing poultry is dangerous work

Minnesota residents may not be surprised to learn that severe work-related injuries are more common in hazardous workplaces like sawmills, steel manufacturing facilities and automobile assembly plants, but they may not know that workers in the poultry processing industry are even more likely to require hospitalization or lose a limb or an eye than their counterparts in these seemingly more hazardous fields. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration collects severe injury reports from employers around the country, and researchers from the National Employment Law Project have relied on this data to come up with a list of the nation's most dangerous jobs.

The NELP researchers studied injury reports submitted by employers in 29 states in 2015 and 2016, and they noticed that poultry processing workers suffered injuries at unusually high rates. The researchers also compiled a list of the companies that had reported the most severe injuries during the time period studied. While the list was dominated by companies with hundreds of thousands of employees like Walmart and United Parcel Service, poultry processing firms claimed the fourth and sixth places despite having far smaller work forces.

These two companies reported 121 severe injuries over a 21-month period, and the NELP researchers concluded after studying these reports that many hospitalizations and amputations could have been prevented. The report says that accidents at poultry processing facilities often occur when workers have been poorly trained, asked to work at machines lacking important safety features or not equipped with mandated safety gear.

Workers who are injured in work-related accidents or become sick after being exposed to toxic substances in their workplaces will generally file claims for workers' compensation benefits, but attorneys with experience in this area may advise them to file personal injury lawsuits instead in certain situations. Employers are generally shielded from this kind of litigation by workers' compensation laws, but lawsuits may be filed when companies have violated OSHA regulations and acted so negligently that accidents and injuries became unavoidable.

Source: The National Employment Law Project, "OSHA Severe Injury Data from 29 States", Debbie Berkowitz and Hooman Hedayati, April 2017

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