California residents and others who work in meat or poultry plants may be hesitant to tell OSHA about problems that they face on the job. This is mostly because those workers are afraid of losing their jobs or other forms of employer retaliation. That was one of the main takeaways from a study done by the U.S. Government Accountability Office and was released on Dec. 8.
If employees are not telling OSHA about conditions that they may face, it may be difficult to help identify and remedy those issues. It is believed that employees are not always reporting injuries they experience on the job or chemical hazards that they may face. Another major issue among meat and poultry workers is a lack of bathroom access. Workers who do ask to use the restroom may have to wait before doing so or may not be able to use one at all.
It is not necessarily a secret that meat and poultry workers are scared of speaking up against their employers. In comments made Dec. 7 by Oxfam, there is a culture of fear within the industry that workers experience on a regular basis. A statement by the National Turkey Federation and other trade groups said that there was a constant effort to improve workplace safety, especially during a tight labor market.
If employer negligence leads to a worker getting hurt on the job, it may be grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. Injured workers may also instead pursue workers' compensation benefits. An attorney may be able to explain a worker's options and which legal strategy may be best suited to their particular injury case. If successful, injured workers may be entitled compensation to pay medical costs as well as a portion of their lost wages.