Dangers of Poultry Industry Increase amidst COVID19 Outbreak
The food processing industry, specifically poultry processing facilities, are some of the most dangerous for workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the virus spreads throughout the industry, workers face more danger than those working in sawmills and coal mines. According to data from the Arkansas Department of Health’s business report, Tyson occupies four of the five spots of active highest totals COVID-19 cases in Arkansas plants as of mid-July. Cumulatively, there are approximately 160 active cases between plants in Benton, Washington, and Johnson Counties. In total, the poultry business has seen more than 3300 cases so far.
Those who work in the industry are sounding the alarm regarding the safety of meat and chicken processing facilities since the plants have become COVID-19 hot spots.
Minority Workers Account for More than Half of Cases
Those familiar with the cases in the poultry industry say minority workers have been hit especially hard by the virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Latino workers account for 56 percent of cases reported in plants in 21 states.
More than any other industry, including those considered “essential” during the pandemic, the poultry and meat processing workforce were forced to choose between employment and good health. Many of the workers in these industries are minorities and undocumented. They were doing extraordinarily dangerous jobs even before the pandemic and that risk has only increased with the outbreak.
Fallout from High Numbers of COVID-19 Cases in Meat and Poultry Packing Plants Could Affect the Country’s Food Supply
Health and food safety experts say that exposure to COVID-19 infected people doesn’t affect the quality or safety of the food. But this doesn’t mean there isn’t cause for greater concern about the virus affecting America’s food supply.
In addition to the concerns about worker safety in these industries, there’s another reason to be concerned. There’s already evidence that the number of infected workers has had an impact on the country’s meat and poultry supply. As the virus continues to spread and more and more workers are affected, it could have a dramatic impact on the cost of food for Americans. Even with a high recovery rate for workers, workers who are ill and those who were exposed and must quarantine must be away from work, making it difficult to keep up with production.
The primary concern for those working in the poultry industry is taking measures to get the outbreak under control. The safety of the workers in these plants should be the number priority for managers and owners.
For years, Heavens Law has helped workers improve their work environments and receive compensation when they are exposed to unsafe working conditions. If you have questions about the dangers you face from COVID-19 in the workplace or you work in the poultry processing industry and would like to speak to someone about exposure to the virus, contact Heavens Law at 888.897.5377 to schedule a free consultation.