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Carpal tunnel and amputations common among meat plant workers

Any job in New Jersey could be the scene of a workplace accident, but beef and pork processing plants have a much higher likelihood of producing injured workers. Meat processing workers frequently experience chronic problems caused by repetitive motions, like carpal tunnel syndrome. These injuries can lead to permanent disability. One plant worker reported that every co-worker he knew had been injured. He protested a proposal among regulators that would allow employers to increase the speeds of their production lines.

Another anonymous worker said that he feels a pinching pain when he stretches his hands after work. Debilitating musculoskeletal conditions associated with meat processing work arise from people making the same cutting motions with knives all day long.

Accidents with knives or industrial equipment also cause workers to suffer serious injuries, defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration as including hospitalization, eye loss or amputation. Reports of finger, hand, arm or foot loss are commonplace in the industry. During a 31-month period from 2015 to 2017, OSHA recorded 270 amputation accidents out of a total of 550 serious injuries. These figures only represented reporting from 22 states. Overall, compared to an average worker, meat processing employees have three times the risk of serious workplace injuries.

When an accident happens at work, employees should seek medical treatment and report the injury as soon as possible. Important deadlines for reporting must be met to apply for workers compensation benefits. In some situations, a person might want the support of an attorney when applying for benefits. With legal representation, a person may be able to challenge attempts by an employer to cover up an accident or hide unsafe working conditions. An attorney might prepare insurance claim paperwork and file a lawsuit if necessary to pursue a settlement for lost pay and medical expenses.