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Meatpacking plants and worker safety

On Behalf of | Jun 22, 2021 | Workplace Safety |

Meatpacking plants in Minnesota play a crucial role in the nation’s meat supply, but they are dangerous places to work. The employees are forced to work quickly and are packed in tightly together. They also work around dangerous machinery with sharp blades and moving parts. Sanitation workers in meatpacking plants also work with caustic chemicals to sanitize surfaces and kill microorganisms.

Machinery dangers

Machines used in meatpacking plants have moving parts and sharp blades, which can severely injure or kill workers who are caught by them. Because of the dangers posed by these machines, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandates that guards must be installed. Workers are also supposed to follow lockout/tagout procedures before working on the machines. However, many meatpacking plants fail to install the guards in violation of workplace safety laws, and employees under time pressure might not follow the lockout/tagout procedures before working on or near the machines. As a result, companies report fatalities each year related to machinery incidents.

Caustic chemicals

Sanitation workers in meatpacking plants must mix caustic chemicals together and spray them on the machines to sanitize them with hydraulic hoses. Workers can suffer severe chemical burns when a hydraulic hose fails and sprays them with acid. The chemicals can also burn through holes in boots, and people can be overcome by toxic fumes.

In spite of these dangers, some meatpacking plants fail to take the precautionary measures mandated by OSHA to protect their workers. As a result, the meatpacking industry reports some of the highest rates of worker deaths and serious injuries each year. People who are seriously injured while working in meatpacking plants and the families of people who are killed may want to consult with experienced attorneys about the legal remedies that might be available.