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Taking a closer look at food worker safety

We’ve explored a variety of safety concerns in this workers’ compensation blog, often involving workplaces with visible potential hazards, like construction sites. However, a recent article reminds us that there may be specific workplace safety concerns associated with many different types of industries. The food and beverage manufacturing industry is one of those.

Specifically, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that 46 American food workers suffered fatal injuries last year. Among food, beverage and tobacco workers, another 79,600 suffered injuries requiring leave from work. 

In food production, lacerations are among the most common type of injury. Protective gloves can help minimize the risk of this type of workplace injury. When employees operate machinery at processing plants, additional safety equipment may be required.

An attorney that focuses on workers’ compensation issues knows that improving workplace safety can benefit both workers and employers alike. Most Oklahoma employers are required to carry insurance policies regarding the possibility of on-the-job employee injuries. Insurance underwriters may impose higher rates if a company’s workplace is perceived as unnecessarily dangerous.

In addition, many employers are also required by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s regulation to record and report employee illnesses and injuries. According to OSHA’s website, even those ordinarily exempt from this reporting requirement could be contacted and required to respond via a survey form from OSHA officials. An employer with a poor safety record might be subject to inspection or fines.

For the injured worker, it is important to contact an attorney after suffering a workplace injury. Although an employee can negotiate with his or her employer, an attorney often has unique insights into the full package of benefits and compensation for which an employee might qualify.

Source: Food Processing, “Cultivating a Culture of Safety in Food and Beverage Plants,” Kevin T. Higgins, Oct. 7, 2014

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