Poultry processing is not the most glamorous occupation, but it puts food on the tables of many North Carolina families. Although the work is steady and reliable, it is also dangerous — exposing workers to injury and illness risks.
In 2019, the rate of non-fatal poultry processing injuries began declining. However, poultry workers must remain vigilant to avoid serious on-the-job injuries and illnesses.
Most poultry processing workers must perform the same motions over and over, leading to disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome. These injuries can cause excruciating pain and often force employees to miss work. Without treatment, they can lead to permanent muscle and nerve damage.
Dangerous chemical exposure
To ensure that poultry is safe for consumption, processing plants use several disinfectants like hydrogen peroxide, chlorine and peracetic acid. Exposure to these chemicals often leads to respiratory conditions and breathing problems. Exposure to ammonia (a refrigerant) and carbon dioxide (dry ice) can also lead to respiratory illnesses.
More injury hazards
The injuries and illnesses above are not the only risks poultry employees face. Accidents from working with equipment and traversing hazardous floors occur commonly.
- Amputations from cutting equipment
- Getting struck by equipment
- Getting caught in between machinery or parts
- Slips, trips and falls from wet or slippery surfaces
Your risk of suffering these or other workplace injuries increases if your employer does not provide proper personal protection equipment.
Remember, you have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim if a workplace accident harms you physically or makes you ill. If you are having trouble getting your claim approved, it may be wise to seek legal guidance.