People in North Carolina who work in meatpacking facilities may face a greater danger of on-the-job injury than workers in many other types of jobs. A 2019 investigation by Human Rights Watch found that on an average of every other day, an employee of a poultry or meat plant was hospitalized or lost a limb. It is possible that the sanitation companies responsible for cleaning many of these facilities may have even higher rates of injury and death.
One of the problems is that when workers are in a hurry to finish cleaning, they might not fully power off machines. Workers’ advocates argue that it is critical for there to be other safeguards in place in case employees do not take this step to prevent an on-the-job injury or death. Federal laws require guards on machines to protect workers from the parts that can harm them, but sometimes, these are not in place.
Lack of reporting and protection
This lack of a safety guard was one problem when a worker was killed while cleaning a machine at a poultry processing plant. An additional issue is that the workers for sanitation companies may be considered independent contractors, and meat and poultry plants may say they are not responsible for any accidents a worker suffers. Another issue is that many minor incidents involving these sanitation companies are not reported to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In the case of the sanitation worker who was killed, the sanitation company offered workers’ compensation to the worker’s family, but the family also filed a lawsuit against the plant.