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Meat industry deaths may be underreported

Slaughterhouse workers in Louisiana are at a serious risk for fatal and nonfatal workplace injuries. In fact, this is the most dangerous sector of the manufacturing industry. An April 2016 report by the Government Accountability Office found that there were 151 work-related deaths in the meat and poultry industries between 2004 and 2013, but there may have been many more deaths that were left unreported.

Though the GAO found that slaughterhouses are safer than they used to be, researchers identified several factors that could lead to underreporting of meat industry accidents. For example, sanitary workers in the meat industry are often employed by third-party contractors. Sub-contracted workers that sustain amputations while cleaning slaughterhouse machinery do not count towards the meat industry's injury and death statistics.

Another factor that may be keeping injury statistics lower in the meat industry is lack of reporting. Medical staff at on-site clinics will often advise workers to go back to work without seeing a doctor. Because slaughterhouse workers are often immigrants who don't speak English, they may be unable to report their injuries. Some immigrants and refugees might choose not to report their injuries because they do not want to lose their jobs.

A lawyer may be able to help an eligible meat industry worker to file a workers' compensation claim after suffering injuries in a workplace accident. Benefits can include medical care and in some cases partial wage replacement. Under certain circumstances, a separate lawsuit could be filed against the manufacturer of defective equipment if that was the cause of the injury.

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