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Poultry processing is one of America's most dangerous jobs

New Jersey residents will likely know that working in the auto, steel and saw mill industries can be extremely dangerous, but they may be unaware that workers in chicken processing facilities are even more likely to be seriously injured in work-related accidents. Employers are required to report serious accidents and severe injuries to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the National Employment Law Project looked at reports that were submitted in 2015 and 2016 to compile a list of America's most dangerous jobs.

According to the NELP report, which was released in April, working in chicken processing facilities is America's 12th most dangerous occupation. The organization also compiled a list of the companies with the most OSHA severe injury reports, and two chicken and meat processing firms ranked in the top 10 despite having far smaller workforces than most of the other companies on the list.

OSHA reviews workplace safety data to identify industries with disproportionately high accident and injury rates, and the agency launched 86 investigations after receiving reports of 180 severe injuries at chicken processing facilities between January 2015 and September 2016. OSHA investigators found an alarming number of cases where workers had been hospitalized or lost hands or fingers because they had not been issued with safety equipment mandated by federal regulations, were not properly trained or worked in close proximity to dangerous machinery with no safety guards.

Companies are expected to follow all federal and state safety regulations and do all that they reasonably can to protect their employees from harm. Workers who suffer on-the-job injuries will usually file workers' compensation claims, but in some cases there might be a possibility of filing a separate lawsuit against a non-employer third party, such as a manufacturer of a defective piece of machinery.

Source: The National Employment Law Project, "OSHA Severe Injury Data from 29 States", Debbie Berkowitz and Hooman Hedayati, April 2017

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