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Slaughterhouse Workers And Lifelong Injuries Caused By Fast-Paced Repetitive Work

Working the production line in a slaughterhouse is notoriously dangerous work that is often conducted at high speeds and in cold conditions. Because the work involves repetitive motions performed quickly, production line employees are particularly susceptible to work related injuries. Although employees who are injured on the job are generally entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, monetary compensation after the fact won’t change the rate at which slaughterhouse employees are being injured.

The Pressure To Work Faster

Meat processing plants often utilize a production line on which workers disassemble the animals into parts and then repackage them for the consumer. According to Iowa Public Radio (IPR), the production chain moves quickly and workers must repeat the same repetitive motions over and over thousands of times per day. IPR also reports that many slaughterhouse supervisors are under enormous pressure from their companies to keep the chain running as fast as possible and therefore yell at their employees when they stop working for any reason. Because of this extreme pressure to keep the chain moving, employees are sometimes not allowed to take restroom breaks and therefore have resorted to wearing adult diapers so that they can relieve themselves while still continuing to work.

Fast-paced repetitive motions can cause a number of different injuries including musculoskeletal disorders that damage the worker’s muscles, tendons, and ligaments. But if these dangers are known, why do slaughterhouses in the United States still operate this way? Some argue that the fast pace is a byproduct of corporate greed and the decision to maximize profits at the expense of employee health. On the other hand, the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) and other groups have pointed out that running chains at breakneck speeds does not actually save a slaughterhouse money because doing so causes workers to be injured which in turn cuts into the company’s profits as they are required to pay workers’ compensation to their injured employees. Despite this argument, the IPR interviewed many workers who note that the fast pace of the production chain has left them with a lifetime of pain and physical problems.

Who Controls The Pace Of The Factory?

While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is in charge of monitoring worker safety at slaughterhouses, the IPR reports that OSHA does not actually have any authority over the speed of production lines. However, slaughterhouse workers have noted that their production lines are slowed down and workers are added to the line when OSHA inspectors are visiting the facility. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture oversees production lines in meat processing plants, however, this department’s focus is on food safety rather than worker safety. The IPR reports that NAMI’s assessment of the situation is that no one knows how fast is too fast when it comes to slaughterhouse production line speeds.

How Can We Help?

While slaughterhouse workers are particularly susceptible to work related injuries, anyone can get hurt at work. If you have been injured while working in Iowa and would like to discuss your legal options, contact our experienced workers’ compensation lawyers today. Call the Noyes Law Office, P.C. at (800) 875-7148 for a free consultation.

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