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Industrial illness, injury risks come to roost in poultry plants

According to a report recently released by the Southern Poverty Law Center, workers in poultry processing plants are highly susceptible to developing a variety of work-related health conditions. The side effects of this line of work aren't limited to physical injuries; in fact, a number of workers have developed severe respiratory illnesses as a result of the unsafe conditions in these plants.

Specifically, workers have reported contracting a condition similar to tuberculosis. Observers believe that this troubling lung condition is the result of "breathing airborne spores" that fill chicken processing plants.

One North Carolina medical professional also noted that poultry workers are highly likely to develop repetitive-motion injuries due to the nature of their work and conditions in many processing plants. Most facilities aren't equipped with ergonomic equipment, which reduces the chance that these injuries will develop.

Unfortunately, however, this problem is widespread -- and may only get worse. The national demand for chicken products is such that thousands throughout the country are employed in this industrial setting. Recently proposed regulations by federal officials may actually weaken existing safety requirements for workers, raising considerable concern among workplace safety advocates.

Beyond fears that the federal safety regulations could negatively impact workers, there is a real concern that the companies operating poultry processing plants aren't necessary providing support to injured or ill workers. One woman who developed a respiratory illness as a result of her work had to go through a lengthy dispute before her employer provided compensation for her medical bills. In some cases, it may take swift legal action for employers to uphold their commitment to employees.

Source: WAVE-TV News, "Poultry processing plants are 'houses of pain,' says new report," Ray Downs, March 7, 2013

  • Facing a workers' compensation dispute may be an intimidating prospect. Our firm has helped injured employees obtain the financial assistance they deserve. To find out more, please see our Greensboro workplace injury page.

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