The emphasis on workplace safety for poultry workers continues to generate positive results. Over the past 20 years, the industry has seen an 80 percent decline in injury and illness rates, according to the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) president and chief executive officer. Recently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released a 2017 report that showed the incident rate for non-fatal occupational injuries and illnesses for U.S. meat and poultry packers and processors was the lowest it has been since 2003.
Fewer Occupational Injuries Among Poultry Workers
The BLS reported that there were approximately 230,000 poultry processing workers in 2016. That year, there was an incident rate of 4.2 nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time equivalent workers; higher than the rate for all private industry workers, which was 2.9 per 100.
However, although incident rates for the poultry industry are consistently higher than those for all other private industry workers, the number of injuries and illnesses within the industry itself has declined. In 2003, there were 8.1 nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses per 100 workers in the meat and poultry sector, as compared to 4.8 cases in 2017. The BLS reported that the number of injuries in the poultry industry has decreased by half in the last 12 years.
BLS data also reveals that the days workers spent either away from their jobs, on restricted duty, or transferred to another job due to a workplace injury went down from 4.4 cases per 100 full-time workers in 2016 to 3.6 cases in 2017. This past February, NAMI presented awards to several meat and poultry plants for their workplace safety achievements at its annual conference on worker safety.
Workers’ Compensation for Poultry Industry-Related Injuries and Illnesses
According to the BLS, poultry workers suffer twice as many serious injuries and six times higher illness rates than workers in private industries. Those who work in the poultry industry face many hazards on the job, including:
Pennsylvania poultry workers who suffer injuries or illnesses due to their work environment or practices may be entitled to workers’ compensation. To ensure their eligibility for compensation under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, employees should report their injuries to their employers within 120 days.
Depending on the nature of the injury and the circumstances of the accident, injured employees may be entitled to various forms of workers’ compensation benefits or third-party compensation. It is advisable for workers to contact a qualified attorney in their local area as the laws may vary by state.