In 1906 Upton Sinclair published The Jungle, a novel which intended to stir up sympathy for immigrants working under harsh conditions in industrialized cities. The public, however, was more concerned about the horrific practices and health violations the meatpacking industry was using. More than a century since the book was released, both food and worker safety has increased a hundredfold. However, many Americans still work under unacceptable conditions and, despite federal regulations, many companies still try to cut costs by breaking the safety standards set by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). Workers who are injured because of poor working conditions should speak to a workers’ compensation attorney regarding their rights. Not only are they entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, their employer may also be subject to penalties for violating health and safety regulations.
Worker Injury Leads to OSHA InvestigationFood processing plants are amongst the most dangerous workplaces for workers. For this reason, there are very strict regulations for safety and health. After a worker was hospitalized in December, OSHA began an investigation into a FPL Food LLC meat-packing plant in Augusta, Georgia. The company, which is headquartered in the city, is the largest privately owned processor of fresh beef products and ground beef in the Southeast. OSHA stepped in to investigate after learning that the 36-year-old saw operator had his abdomen lacerated while cutting meat. The investigation into the accident revealed that the injury was due to improper machine maintenance and that the saw’s safety cut-off switches were not functioning properly at the time the worker was injured. Workerplace safety violations, however, did not stop with the saw and OSHA also cited FPL Food LLC for a number of other crimes including:
- Exposing workers to falls on platforms due to lack of rails;
- Electric shock risks from faulty/improper wiring;
- Possible amputation hazards from unguarded cutting blades;
- Failure to provide a fully functional eyewash station; and
- Failure to properly train workers on machinery accident prevention during maintenance and servicing of equipment.