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GAO report may help improve safety for meat and poultry workers

Whether in Ohio or other parts of America, the meat and poultry industry is known for having some of the highest injury rates among employees. From increasing line speeds to hazardous chemicals to employees being denied the proper number of bathroom breaks, there are several safety concerns that have yet to be adequately addressed.

OSHA is largely responsible for tracking safety violations and injuries by interviewing employees with claims and conducting safety inspections. It has recently increased the number of annual inspections, with 244 of them conducted in 2016 compared to 177 in 2005. However, the agency faces a major challenge in that many employees do not report injuries and violations for fear that their employers will retaliate. This is according to a report from the Government Accountability Office.

The report focused on the collaboration between OSHA and the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service. OSHA trains FSIS inspectors, and the two agreed in a memorandum dating back to 1994 that they will share information about any safety hazards they find. The GAO, however, states that FSIS officials often fail to report hazards for fear that OSHA will inspect the FSIS. The agency also found that the FSIS has no way of sharing information regarding hazardous chemicals in the meat and poultry industry. These prevent worker safety conditions from improving.

When employees in any industry are injured, they may want to consult with a lawyer. They can file for workers' compensation benefits, and a lawyer could hire experts to investigate the accident, if necessary. Although no proof of employer negligence is required to receive these benefits, it would be required if the victim were filing a personal injury claim.

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