An investigative report on the prevalence of occupational injuries in the chicken processing industry in Illinois and other states recently revealed that under-reporting remains to be a concerning matter. Many workers fear retaliation for reporting a work injury, and those injuries that are reported are often not recorded. Workers in this industry work long shifts with few breaks, performing repetitive motions for hours on end.
The nature of their jobs that consist of trimming meat cuts, pulling off tenders and removing internal organs from chicken carcasses is forceful and repetitive. Most workers develop musculoskeletal injuries such as lower back injuries, muscle strains, tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. These are all injuries that have long-term consequences, and if left untreated, workers can end up suffering chronic pain for life.
During the investigation, reporters found that workers felt they had to choose between their employment and their health. This is because the punishment for reporting injuries or staying off work could mean job loss or even deportation for undocumented workers. The fear often leads to employees working while injured — exacerbating the pain and severity of the musculoskeletal disorder.
Many employees in the Illinois poultry processing industry might not realize that there are legal resources available. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can assist with obtaining benefits to cover the medical expenses for any work injury. The claims process can be complicated, and a lawyer can help with the administrative and legal proceedings. Furthermore, benefits will also cover lost wages for injured workers who cannot return to work for some time.