A joint investigation by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and ProPublica uncovers concerns over a poultry processing operation in northeast Georgia. Fieldale Farms employs 1,900 workers in Gainesville, which is called the Poultry Capital of the World.
However, the investigation uncovered federal safety records showing the operation has seen several severe accidents in recent years, including death and amputations, while many other incidents led to hospitalizations.
Plant granted permission to speed up production
Despite a history of injuries to its workers, Fieldale has received permission from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to speed up its production line. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says the chicken industry has higher rates of injuries than coal mining or construction and is the biggest source of finger amputations.
ProPublica reports several other plants have also been permitted to speed up production by the USDA. Chicken companies have long sought such permission to relax regulatory rules to produce more chicken while using fewer workers.
Worker injuries expected to rise in the poultry industry
The report says it’s too early to tell whether the USDA’s decision has caused more accidents at poultry plants. They say that will be tougher to determine after the current administration scrapped requirements for companies to submit injury logs.
Critics say poultry workers typically perform one task over and over, handling knives inches away from another employee while next to harsh chemicals and spinning blades. Scientific studies show speeding up the process also worsens the risk of repetitive injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
Georgia workers face numerous risks
Workers in the Peach State face numerous workplace hazards, especially from companies that have poor safety records. If you are injured on the job, an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you file a claim to receive the benefits you deserve. Your attorney can also help you with an appeal if your claim is denied.