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Poultry and Meat Processing Industries Rank High for Severe Injuries Thinkstock

Poultry and Meat Processing Industries Rank High for Severe Injuries

A new report shows poultry and meat-processing companies such as Cargill, Tyson and Pilgrim’s Pride are among the worst offenders when it comes to severe workplace injuries.

Cargill, Tyson and Pilgrim’s Pride rank within the top 15 companies for severe injuries in the United States, according to the National Employment Law Project.

The nonprofit released a report which examined severe injury data compiled by OSHA since 2015. Severe injuries are defined as involving amputation, hospitalization or loss of an eye.

 “OSHA’s severe injury data shines a light on the severe toll of preventable workplace injuries, especially in the U.S. poultry industry,” said Debbie Berkowitz, senior fellow for worker safety and health with the NELP and the report’s lead author. “The workers who put food on our tables should not have to sacrifice their health for a paycheck.”

The NELP found that the poultry industry as a whole has the 12th highest number of severe injuries of all industries reporting ranking above, auto, steel and other high-hazard industries. 

Companies in 29 states covered by federal OSHA notified the agency of 17,533 incidents of the most severe work-related injuries during the period from January 2015 through September 2016. An average of 27 workers a day suffered work-related amputations or hospitalizations.

Tyson Foods ranked fourth and JBS/ Pilgrim’s Pride sixth in terms of severe injuries. More than 14,000 companies nationwide submitted data.

In addition, Cargill has the 14th highest number of reported severe injuries along with Packers Sanitation Services, which provides workers who clean and sanitize the equipment in meat and poultry plants.

The National Chicken Council released a statement in response to the NELP’s report.

“This is cherry-picking of data in an effort to advance NELP’s and their allies’ agenda: the unionization of poultry plants,” the NCC said. “The fact is that the incidence of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses in the poultry sector, which includes slaughter and processing, remains at an all-time low, according to the 2015 Injury and Illness Report by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  The total recordable poultry processing illness and injury rate for 2015 was 4.3 cases per 100 full-time workers (per year), the same rate as 2014, and lower than the 2015 rate of 4.7 for the entire food manufacturing sector.”

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