A report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office has brought some needed attention on the safety concerns of meat and poultry plants. It turns out that meatpacking workers tend to have the highest injury rates, yet many of the injuries that take place in this industry go unreported. This should be of interest to workers in Minnesota and across the country.

The safety concerns brought up by the GAO include a lack of restroom breaks, exposure to dangerous chemicals and cases of workers being denied medical treatment. The GAO speculates that many workers choose not to report injuries out of the fear that their employers will retaliate. The GAO’s findings indicate that meat and poultry factories are cutting corners in the effort to keep production lines running.

The GAO has prompted OSHA, together with NIOSH and the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, to conduct chemical safety reviews and to interview workers about things like restroom access. Some meatpacking companies have begun to review and improve workplace safety. Tyson Foods, for example, has made an expanded workplace safety pilot program, which will pay more attention to line speeds and workers’ rights.

From slip and falls to machine accidents caused by overworked employees, there are an alarming number of ways that employees, in any industry, can be injured. When workplace accidents are not directly caused by an employer’s negligence, the victim will most likely be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits. A lawyer may be able to help estimate a reasonable settlement and negotiate for it. If the employer failed to follow OSHA regulations or was negligent in some other way, then the victim might file an injury claim. A lawyer may be able to represent the client in court.