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Poultry processing plants may see more workplace injuries

Pennsylvania's workers may be interested to learn that a new federal government proposal seeks to reduce government oversight of poultry producers, thereby allowing them to self-inspect the safety of their processes. The proposal, which is still awaiting approval by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, would replace nearly half of U.S. Department of Agriculture with poultry factory employees, and it would also allow processing to speed up by 25 percent. While such a measure would save the government and the poultry industry money, it could place workers at risk.

Processing plants pose several threats to employees. These workers may be susceptible to airborne contaminants, dangerous machinery, and repetitive motion injuries. Faster processing lines and decreased regulation may make it more difficult for employees to receive the training, equipment and oversight they need. OSHA, however, claims work-related injuries will not increase if the proposal is implemented because it will step in if any issues arise.

Though OSHA may live up to its word by stepping in when an accident occurs, by then it is already too late for the worker who has been injured. That employee must then face the difficult realities of fighting to recover his or her health while finding a way to pay medical expenses when he or she may be experiencing lost wages due to his or her inability to work.

Though workers' compensation should help those who suffer a workplace injury cover these losses, all too often these individuals find themselves with a claim denial. Instead of giving up, at this point injured workers should double their efforts and fight the denial. By obtaining the assistance of an experienced Pennsylvania attorney, a worker may place him or herself in a strong position to recover the compensation he or she needs to achieve full rehabilitation.

Source:, "Objection to USDA Plan Allowing Poultry Producer Self-Inspection Spreads to Congress," Danny Biederman and Noel Brinkerhoff, March 19, 2014

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