Harsh working conditions in slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants are not a new phenomenon in the meatpacking plants of Chicago and other cities across the United States. The problem was first brought to public attention when journalist Upton Sinclair published his now famous novel, The Jungle, highlighting the plight of immigrants and other workers
As a result of this novel and many subsequent changes in worker’s rights laws, most workplaces have been a lot safer, and this includes slaughterhouses. However, according to a recent news article from NPR, the latest government report is not capturing the total number of accidents in the meat and poultry industry.
This latest report is an update to the 2005 worker injury report in which the government was very critical of the industry in terms of worker safety. In the nine years following the release of that article, more than 150 workers have been killed on the job in the meat and poultry slaughterhouses, and that is a much higher rate of death than in we see in other similar types of factory work. However, it is believed by some researchers that this number does not even cover many other accidents that go unreported each year.
One issue is that many of the workers on the floor of a factory are not employed by the factory owner directly, but are employed for a third party such as a temp agency. When these workers are injured or killed, these incidents will not be recorded as workplace injuries in the meat and poultry industry.
It has also been alleged that medical personnel are on sight to treat injured workers and, given the immediate attention, patch them up and encourage them to get back out on the factory floor, so they would not miss any shifts or have to take additional time off from work. According to the federal government report, one worker went to the company first aid station 90 times for treatment of the same injury until he decided to go and see a doctor.
Another reason these workers are not reporting their on-the-job injuries is because many of them are immigrants who are intimidated into not reporting any workplace industries or illness. Immigrant workers are under constant fear of their employer retaliating for complaining about anything.
In addition to physical injuries, there is also a great deal of illness as result of unsanitary working conditions. This is something that government has to take care of in the very near future, so that it is an overall safer place to work.
If a worker is injured on the factory floor, it is okay to see the factory doctor or nurse, but it is important to make sure to file an accident claim with your employer so that, if needed, you can later open a Boston workers’ compensation case. If you do not make an immediate report of injury or illness, it may be more difficult to file a claim later. If you feel that the treatment you are being given at the company health clinic is not enough, you have a right to go to a doctor to see if there is anything that can be done to improve your condition.
If you or someone you love has been injured a Boston work accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.
We Don’t Know How Many Workers Are Injured At Slaughterhouses. Here’s Why, May 25, 2016, NPR, By Grant Gerlock
More Blog Entries:
Scope of Employment in Workers’ Compensation Cases, March 29, 2016, Boston Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog