Pain, People, and Poultry: No Pain, No Gain
“People get hurt, they just cut them up and patch them up and put them back on the line like they do horses,” said by Harry O. Simms, a union shop steward, about poultry workers and their working conditions (Hall et al.). The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s duty is to enforce standards for healthy working conditions, so treatment is in the workers’ best interest. However, OSHA has no specific rules for poultry factory workers; rather the general regulations covered the workers (Poultry Processing). If a ratio of 10 food factories to one inspector in each state is hired and OSHA applies tailored rules for poultry factories, then ...view middle of the document...
” OSHA does not specify workers to “just and favourable conditions of work” or “to protection against unemployment,” (The Universal Declaration of Human Rights). So, if a worker experienced an injury and wants to report it, the worker often feels trapped in this scenario, due to the fact that their employeer can fire them.
Poultry factory workers receive the federal minimum wage of $5.15 per hour, though if a state’s minimum wage differs from the federal, then the workers will receive whichever is greater. When accidents, injuries, or illnesses occur during the work, poultry factory workers should follow five steps. If a worker follows these steps and the doctor states the work is the reason for the accident, illness, or injury, then the employeers’s compensation insurance should cover the worker’s medical bills. However, some states do not require an employer to have workers’ compensation insurance, so the workers must familiarize themselves with their state’s regulations (Publications).
For poultry factory workers, working environments are usually unhealthy and unsafe like the Hamlet, North Carolina plant. Workers come in contact with unsanitary elements including blood, grease, ingesta, and feces from animals. Sometimes employers have full knowledge of these dangerous surroundings like line speeds. Most poultry factory workers submit to these harsh environments to keep their jobs. If management maintained a safer workplace, the number of accidents, physical or medical, would decrease. This contact often provoked illnesses and injuries like the outbreak of psittacosis in 1981 (Blood, Sweat, and Fear: Workers’ Rights in U.S. Meat and Poultry Plants 40).
For example, In July of 1981, an outbreak of psittacosis infected 27 of the 80 poultry factory workers in a poultry factory in Ohio. Carried by the internal organs of the slaughter turkeys, the symptoms of psittacosis include major chills, aches, coughs, weakness, headaches, fevers, minor photophobias, joint pains, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. Of the 27 infected workers, three had to be hospitalized. Pneumonia, common with psittacosis, was found in for eight employees who had their chest x-rayed (Associated Press).
A burst hydraulic line connected to a cooker on the conveyor belt caused a fire in Hamlet, North Carolina at the Imperial Food Processing Plant on September 3, 1991. When the repaired hydraulic line blew and the fluid erupted at 800 to 1,500 pounds per square inch, the fire and resulting black smoke spread rapidly throughout the building killing 25 and injuring 54 workers. The black smoke created great confusion for attempting to escape, they could not escape because several exit doors were locked, which also produced a build-up of toxic gases. Help was slow to come, since the phone lines died; however, department and community people assisted in caring for surviving victims. Helicopters transported victims to regional medical facilities. According to the U.S. Fire...