The meatpacking industry has made many strides toward worker safety over the last two decades. However, it is still very difficult to know the real number of injuries and illnesses suffered by workers in New Jersey and across the nation due to their jobs.
While the North American Meat Institute, an industry group, has defended the industry’s records of worker safety, a recent update to a 2005 Government Accountability Office report shows that injuries and illnesses on the job for meatpacking industry workers are still very common and that overall, the rate of workplace injuries for the workers in the meat industry is higher than those of workers in the rest of the manufacturing industry. For example, between 2004 and 2013, 151 meat and poultry workers died as a result of injuries they suffered at work.
Injuries and illnesses in the meatpacking industry might be underreported due to the fact that many workers are immigrants or refugees who might fear losing their jobs or who have a language barrier. Another reason is that the injuries of workers who are hired by subcontractors are sometimes not counted with industry injuries. Finally, the on-site clinics might not encourage workers to seek medical help for their pain.
Injured workers might choose seek help from an attorney. A personal injury lawyer could help them file personal injury claims against their companies for unsafe or dangerous working conditions that have caused them injury or illness, and these conditions might be permanent, which needs to be taken into account when filing the claim.