Employers in Pennsylvania and around the country must submit reports about any severe work-related injuries to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Accident and injury reports submitted by employers in 29 states between January 2015 and September 2016 were analyzed by researchers from the National Employment Law Project and used to create a list of the nation’s most dangerous occupations. The NELP research team also used the information to identify companies that may not be doing all that they can to keep their workers safe.
The data analysis revealed some disturbing trends in the poultry processing sector. The researchers discovered that workers in poultry processing facilities suffered severe injuries more often than workers in high-risk occupations like automobile production, steel manufacturing and lumber processing. Poultry processing firms also featured prominently when NELP researchers made a list of the companies that reported the most serious accidents despite employing far fewer workers than the other organizations on the list.
OSHA considers injuries serious when workers are hospitalized or lose a limb or the use of an eye. While even the strictest workplace safety protocols cannot prevent all work-related accidents, the NELP researchers concluded that many of the injuries suffered by poultry processing workers could have been avoided.
While workers’ compensation benefits can be valuable when injuries are serious, attorneys with experience in this area may sometimes suggest that injured workers file personal injury lawsuits instead. Workers’ compensation laws are designed to shield employers from litigation and ensure that injured workers are able to make ends meet, but companies may still face litigation when they have repeatedly violated OSHA regulations and acted with reckless or malicious disregard for the safety of their employees.
Source: The National Employment Law Project, “OSHA Severe Injury Data from 29 States”, Debbie Berkowitz and Hooman Hedayati, April 2017