Injuries And Deaths At Poultry Plants
Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer explains what you need to know
Poultry plant workers in the greater Atlanta area often work with tools and machinery to cut, sort, and package poultry meat. There are many serious hazards poultry plant workers face on the job. The poultry processing industry is among the most dangerous occupations with a disproportionately high rate of severe injuries and deaths.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were more than 2,000 nonfatal injuries and illnesses in poultry and egg production plants across the U.S. during 2019. About 1,500 of them resulted in days away from work and job transfers/restrictions. In addition, there were seven deaths in the poultry and egg production facilities nationwide.
One of the most serious and fatal poultry plant accidents occurred in January 2021 in Gainesville, Georgia, the poultry processing capital of the world. A liquid nitrogen leak in the plant resulted in six deaths and 11 injuries. This was not the first time serious workplace injuries have occurred at chicken processing plants in Gainesville. Workplace injuries at processing plants in the Georgia community in the past have resulted in amputation injuries and numerous fines for safety violations.
Common hazards poultry plant workers face
Those who work in poultry plants often perform repetitive tasks and endure long hours standing. This involves working with knives, slicers, grinders, and other potentially dangerous tools. In addition, poultry workers often carry heavy objects, sometimes when the floors are slippery or cluttered with debris.
To protect workers, plant owners and managers have an obligation to comply with strict guidelines required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and have safety controls in place. This includes:
- Effective ergonomics programs
- Hearing protection for workers
- Ensuring that machinery and electrical systems are locked out/tagged out when not in use
- Providing workers with personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Keeping dangerous equipment guarded
- Maintaining walking areas to prevent slip, trip, and fall accidents
- Keeping facilities maintained, sanitized, and properly ventilated
- Ensuring that exit doors are not blocked or locked while employees are working
Some of the most common injuries we see at poultry plants are:
- Severe lacerations
- Amputated fingers and other body parts
- Permanent nerve damage
- Illnesses linked to unsanitary and poorly maintained facilities and poor ventilation
- Illnesses linked to exposure to hazardous chemicals such as nitrogen and ammonia
- Injuries from slip and fall accidents
- Repetitive stress injuries linked to poor ergonomics
- Burns, scalding injuries, and electrocutions
- Hearing loss due to excessive noise
Getting workers’ compensation benefits after a poultry plant injury can be difficult
If you sustained an injury while working at a poultry plant in the greater Atlanta area, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. In Georgia, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, which means negligence doesn’t need to be proven. However, you must prove that your injury or illness occurred within the scope of your employment.
Workers’ compensation pays for:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Temporary total disability – two-thirds of your average weekly pay prior to your injury
- Temporary partial disability – pays a portion of your income loss if your job is modified for less pay
- Permanent total disability if you’re unable to work again due to your injury
- Permanent partial disability if you’re able to work, but for less pay
When pursuing workers’ compensation benefits, be sure to take the following actions:
- Notify your employer of your workplace injury or illness immediately
- See a doctor as soon as possible and notify them that you have sustained an injury or illness on the job
- Get documentation of your diagnosis and medical treatment
- Speak to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to maximize your chances of obtaining your full benefits
Navigating the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim can be confusing, especially for those filing for the first time. An attorney at the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C. can guide you through the process and help you get the best possible outcome for your case. To learn more, contact us online or call us to schedule your free case evaluation.