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New GAO Report: Workers in Meat and Poultry Industry Face High, Persistent Rates of Injury and Illness

An estimated 526,000 workers were employed in the meat and poultry industry in 2015


Report calls on agencies to do more to ensure workplace safety and support basic worker rights


(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), and Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), released the findings of a new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on actions needed to address continued hazards in the meat and poultry industry. The report found that workers in meat and poultry plants continue to face unsafe working conditions, and confirms that many injuries and illnesses go underreported as workers may fear for their jobs if they report an injury. GAO recommends that the Department of Labor strengthen its data collection on worker injuries and illnesses, and improve classification of employment and illnesses.


“All workers should have access to a safe and healthy workplace and be able to earn a living without fearing for their safety,” Senator Murray said. “This report makes clear that workers in the meat and poultry industry continue to face some of the highest rates of workplace injury. I will continue to push to make sure every worker, in every industry, has the safe work environment they deserve.”


“The conditions that these workers are forced to endure is an outrage, and have no place in our nation,” Senator Casey said. “This is a matter of basic justice. The meat and poultry industry must quickly take substantial steps to improve the workplace conditions for those in this industry. The Department of Labor should immediately begin to implement GAO’s recommendations.”  


“The GAO’s report raises troubling questions about whether the rate of work-related injuries and illnesses in the meat and poultry industry has been dramatically understated in official government statistics,” Congressman Scott said. “The report also suggests that this is due to underreporting that is traceable to workers’ fear of job loss and employers’ concerns about costs. I commend OSHA for its efforts to protect these workers by modernizing its injury and illness recordkeeping rule.”


To read the full GAO report click HERE.