While robots are taking over dangerous jobs in newer automated meat and poultry plants, the rest still use mostly manual labor. In these facilities, workers may succumb to repetitive motion injuries, cuts and bruises, loss of limbs and exposure to harsh chemicals. For some employees, restroom breaks are difficult to manage due to the distance from their workstation and the availability for someone to fill in.
Not much has changed since 1994, when USDA’s FSIS and OSHA agreed to a memorandum of understanding to improve workplace safety and allow workers to report dangerous conditions. In a recent Government Accountability Office report entitled “Workplace Safety and Health: Better Outreach, Collaboration, and Information Needed to Protect Workers at Meat and Poultry Plants,” the GAO has brought the memorandum back to the forefront, stating that much unaccomplished work remains and most employees still feel they’ll lose their jobs if they complain about any unsafe conditions to OSHA.