Here are many recommended reading links for people who care about how workers are treated at places that process the meat that lands on their tables.
I have recently written about how packing plants are still brutal places to work, according to the Government Accountability office, and the articles below reinforce those perceptions.
Harvest Public Media and NET Nebraska recently collaborated on reports that show the reality of life for the majority of people who work in meatpacking plants. Because there is different information in the audio and the written reports, I think it’s best to read and listen to both. The series is appropriately called: Dangerous Jobs, Cheap Meat
- Fines For Meatpackers’ Safety Problems Are ‘Embarrassingly Low’
- Working ‘The Chain,’ Slaughterhouse Workers Face Life-Long Injuries
- While New Safety Efforts Are Underway, Injuries Are Still Part Of The Job For Meat And Poultry Workers
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA for short, considers work in food plants to be high-hazard manufacturing industries, and recently completed a 90-day regional emphasis in Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri that focused on such businesses.
Getting hurt working in a meatpacking plant is so common. As a person can read at the links, injury incidents range from repetitive motion problems for workers on the line to a maintenance worker being killed by machinery without the right guards and also amputations for employees struggling to earn a wage and keep up with line speeds.
Even with new reporting requirements that OSHA has, some experts say that injuries are underreported in meatpacking plants. A recent report also showed that working conditions were bad, specifically in poultry plants.
“The rate of meatpacking workers who lose time or change jobs because they’re injured is 70 percent higher than the average for manufacturing workers overall, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,” as quoted in the NET Nebraska article about safety efforts. However, the article says that “meat processing is drastically safer than it was 20 years ago.”
Knowing that a workplace is safer but is a place where “meat and poultry workers are still hurt more often than other manufacturing workers” is a small assurance to those who work there.
The article talks about how companies are trying to change their culture and safety records.
It’s hard to not be skeptical, as injured workers are rushed back to the line, denied treatment, or fired for being unable to perform their jobs. That’s one reason that we represent meatpacking plant employees and families who suffer a wrongful death.
Greta Horner said this in the article about her husband’s “preventable” death as a maintenance worker at a meatpacking plant, and I firmly believe it.
“They need to realize that everybody that works there is a human being with a life and it’s not just a statistic, it’s a person.
“Their employees aren’t cattle that go through the chutes. They’re people with families.”