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Poultry workers fear retaliation for reporting workplace injuries

Poultry production is North Carolina's leading agricultural industry, accounting for more than $34 billion and 100,000 jobs statewide. In fact, neighboring Union County is the second leading poultry-producing county in the state, surpassed only by Duplin.

Unfortunately, workers at meat and poultry processing plants are reluctant to tell inspectors about on-the-job injuries and injury hazards because they fear that they could be fired as a result, according to a recent report.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says many workers won't contact the agency because they are concerned about employer retaliation. That means OSHA “may not be able to identify or address conditions that endanger them,” said the U.S. Government Accountability Office said in its recently released study.

Workers in meat and poultry processing plants also said they also have concerns about bathroom access. Workers are often denied access or receive delayed access to bathrooms.

The GAO's study arrives a year after a report by Oxfam America that stated that U.S. poultry processing workers are regularly denied bathroom breaks. Some employees have even resorted to wearing diapers while they are on the job.

In the study, workers also expressed concerns about the availability of on-the-job medical care.

"In a tight labor market like the one we have now, there is an even stronger incentive to protect our employees and ensure that they are healthy and able to perform their jobs," said a North American Meat Institute spokesperson in a statement.

If you have been injured at work and your North Carolina workers' compensation claim has been denied, you can contact an attorney experienced in workers' comp appeals.

 

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