On September 3, 2020, an unidentified maintenance worker at Tyson Foods’ Vienna, GA poultry processing plant, located 55 miles south of Macon, died on the loading dock. The 58-year-old man was pronounced dead on the scene by the Dooley County coroner, Ricky Hudson. No further details have been released.
In their public statement, Tyson Foods said, “We’re deeply saddened by the accident and extend our thoughts and prayers to the team member’s family, friends and co-workers.”
The federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) is leading an investigation.
Common meatpacking injuries
In the meatpacking industry, workers are constantly using sharp tools and heavy machinery while on the job, which means cuts and lacerations are common.
According to the National Employment Law Project, Tyson is 1 of the top 15 companies in the United States for severe injuries, along with Cargill and Pilgrim’s Pride.
Workers in slaughterhouses are also at an increased risk for slip and falls due to slick floors, causing mild to severe head, neck, back and hip injuries.
Other injuries can be especially traumatic, such as loss of limb from handling knives to cut the meat, which can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Meatpackers work in close quarters to each other and handle freshly slaughtered meat, exposing them to harmful biological agents that can cause skin infection, flu, vomiting, diarrhea, pneumonia and blood infection.
Working during a pandemic
In addition to severe bodily injuries, meatpackers also work within close proximity to each other, increasing the risk of contracting the coronavirus.
As of July 2020, the CDC said that workers in poultry processing plants who have contracted in COVID-19 totaled 16,233 reported cases across 239 facilities in 28 different states.
In fact, several plants were forced to temporarily shut down earlier this year because hundreds of workers were exposed to COVID-19 at the same time.
According to the safety guidelines set forth by OSHA, workers in the meatpacking industry should be wearing waterproof gloves, face masks, hair nets and goggles while on the job in order to reduce exposure to COVID-19 and biological agents from the meat.
In order to limit the number of injuries as much as possible, OSHA’s safety guidelines recommend that workers should be trained on biological hazards, recognizing symptoms, using PPE and the best hygiene practices.
What happens if you’re injured on the job?
If you work in a meat processing plant and are injured on the job, immediately seek medical attention. Then, report the injury to your supervisor. The severity of the injury may seem mild, but a licensed medical professional can help prevent the injury from worsening over time.
Depending on the severity of the injury, you may want to seek legal advice from an experienced workers’ comp attorney who can help you receive medical and indemnity benefits. If the injury is considered catastrophic—an injury or illness so severe that you can’t return to work or results in loss of life—contact a Georgia workers’ compensation attorney today.
At Gerber & Holder Law, we know the loss of a loved one is life-changing, and nothing in the world can replace them. But we can help you cover accumulated costs from the injury and funeral arrangements.
Our team has years of experience representing injured workers and their families. We offer free initial consultations to give your case personal attention and offer proven results.
Contact us today to get started on your workers’ compensation claim.