According to shocking new data gathered by a public health professor, the meat-processing industry in Louisiana and nationwide regularly butchers workers alongside animals. The information shows employees at Tyson Foods often lose fingertips and thumbs, and worker advocates claim that the injuries are evidence of industry-wide employer neglect.
Through the Freedom of Information Act, a professor at The George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health gathered injury reports made by Tyson to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration from January through September of 2015. The data showed that Tyson meat processors suffered 34 injuries severe enough to require hospitalization during that period of time, and 17 of those injuries were amputations. Most injuries involved severed fingertips, but one worker had both hands amputated while cleaning a mixer. Beef workers suffered the most injuries.
According to OSHA, the meat-processing industry has an extraordinarily high injury rate, with approximately 20,000 non-fatal injuries reported in 2014. Worker advocates say that meat processors suffer 10 times as many repetitive strain injuries as the general population due to harsh, high-speed working conditions. They also claim that industry workers are largely made up of Latino immigrants who are regularly subjected to discrimination, wage theft and anti-union efforts.
Louisiana workers who suffer an on-the-job injury may be eligible to apply for workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits cover medical expenses and a percentage of a worker’s salary as they recover at home. Disability benefits are also available for those who suffer long-term injuries. Some workers find it helpful to consult with a lawyer as they prepare their claim to ensure it is fully-documented and filed on time.
Source: The Nation, “Amputated Hands and Torn Fingers: The Meat-Processing Industry’s Horrifying Injuries,” Michelle Chen, Feb. 24, 2016