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Meat processing and packing jobs pose workplace hazards

On Behalf of | May 22, 2022 | Workplace Risks

American meat lovers may appreciate your hard work processing and packing meat, but they aren’t going to pay your bills if you suffer an injury or illness. Fortunately, workers’ compensation is there to cover your medical expenses and replace some of the wages you lost due to workplace conditions.

Knowing that workers’ comp will guard your livelihood in the face of an injury or illness is good, but it is always better to avoid on-the-job hazards. The U.S. meat industry is plagued with many injury risks. Getting to know them could help you remain safe from serious harm.

Biological hazards abound

Some slaughtered animals were sick or carried antibiotic-resistant biological agents that can pass to humans. Specific hazards include:

  • Brucellosis infection can cause mild to severe symptoms and, sometimes, fatalities.
  • Q Fever infection presents with flu-like symptoms but can lead to serious illnesses like hepatitis and pneumonia.

Influenza (including swine flu) also plagues workers in the meat industry, so it’s wise to get your flu vaccine every year.

Confined space accidents

Those employed in meat processing or packing must often work in small spaces. These confined areas present several hazards, including:

  • Contact with moving parts
  • Risk of asphyxiation
  • Engulfment if a fire breaks out

Contact with moving parts is particularly hazardous and could lead to dismemberment of a hand or fingers.

Chemical hazards to watch out for

The meat industry must use chemicals when processing slaughtered animals. Examples include:

  • Ammonia for refrigeration
  • Disinfectants (such as chlorine, peroxide and peracetic acid)
  • Carbon dioxide (dry ice)

Exposure to these and other chemical hazards can result in severe respiratory conditions.

Of course, many more risks accompany meat packing and processing jobs. We recommend learning more about them to increase your on-the-job safety. If you have trouble with your workers’ compensation claim after an injury or illness, an experienced advocate can help you get your due benefits.