Workers in Pennsylvania who are employed in the meat industry can face some of the country's most dangerous jobs. If policy changes that are being discussed go through, those workplaces could become even more risky for workers dealing directly with meat preparation and packaging. The rate of injuries in the industry is significantly greater than in other types of employment. In fact, workers in the meat industry are three times more likely to be seriously injured on the job than the average American worker. For workers dealing with pork and beef, they are seven times more likely to suffer often-disabling repetitive stress injuries.
Now, workers in meat processing could be at even greater risk for workplace accidents and injuries. Proposals have been made to eliminate the speed reductions in pork processing plants that have been imposed to protect workplace safety. While injuries continue to tower above those in other industries, industry advocates say that their rate and severity have declined in past decades. They also claim that existing food safety laws will put their own brake on the maximum speed in meat plants and that the worker safety restrictions can be rescinded without harm.
However, serious injuries are already common in the industry. Every week, approximately two workers lose fingers, fingertips or other amputated body parts like toes or hands. Worker advocates say that repetitive motion injuries are particularly damaging at high speeds. The meat industry is already plagued with disabling injuries due to repetitive stress that often force employees out of the labor market altogether.
Workers in the meat industry face daily risks that could be exacerbated due to policy changes; these can include lifelong disabilities and severe injuries caused by workplace conditions. Injured and disabled workers may want to consult with a workers compensation attorney in order to protect their rights and seek the benefits that are rightfully theirs.