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Poultry, meat plant work injuries get international attention

Iowa provides a lot of jobs in the food industry. Meat and poultry operations are a huge source of opportunity for workers. Unfortunately, they also tend to be sources of major work-related injuries.

State law states that anyone injured while working or doing work related to their job may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. Understanding all aspects of what may be available can be complicated, however. That's why an injured worker should never presume to know their rights. Rather, they should make it a priority to work with counsel experienced in the area of workers' compensation law.

The plight and concerns of poultry and meatpacking industry workers related to job safety was the focus of a recent hearing in Washington before an international body called the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

One of the things that made the session notable is that it was held as U.S. regulators are said to be finalizing changes that worker advocates fear could result in lower oversight and greater work hazard risk.

The complaints presented to the IACHR were not new, but it was the first time they were made to the body made up of members from the 35-nation Organization of American States.

During the hearing, witnesses described how high processing speeds resulted in repetitive stress injuries that eventually made it impossible for them to work. One Nebraska man told how, in the course of eight years, he underwent surgery in both hands and his back. Despite hours of therapy, he says he is still in pain and the strength he once had in his hands is gone. Worst of all, he says, is that after receiving a doctor's orders for restricted work, his company laid him off.

It's not clear exactly what the IACHR may be able to do, but worker advocates say they hope the commission will use its influence to press the U.S. government to improve what they say are unacceptable and inhumane work conditions in the plants.

Source: MintPress, "Meatpacking Workers Fight "Unacceptable And Inhumane" Conditions," Cary L. Biron, March 27, 2014

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